Pete Murray w/ Ben Wright Smith – The Cambridge Hotel – Thursday 27th July
When Pete Murray was announced to play The Cambridge Hotel earlier on this year, I’ve got to say that I was a little surprised. Generally synonymous with hosting rowdier rock, indie and electronic acts and housing a younger crowd, The Cambridge probably wouldn’t have been my first choice when looking at venues. I’ve got to say though, that I was definitely proven wrong.
When Ben Wright Smith took to the stage, it was unlike anything I’ve ever seen…the entire room was packed for the support band. I’m sure that you could imagine my disbelief when I rocked up at 7:30pm to find a line wrapping around the building; either the support band were actually great or all of the middle aged mums were fighting each other for a prime Pete position. As I soon found discovered, it was definitely both of these things.
Performing their set as a duo, Ben Wright Smith battled against the chatter of old friends and the sound of men talking about how important their job is. It was pretty disheartening to see a band performing to a full house, but only managing to capture 40% of the audience’s attention. Nevertheless, the duo pushed on and delivered hits such as No One, Sand Grabber and Hellion Heeled to anyone who would pay attention. With a melding of psychedelic, folk and indie-pop, Ben Wright Smith’s album The Great Divorce would pair perfectly with a hammock and a lazy afternoon (cold beers are optional but are definitely encouraged).
For me, I thought that their set was great, filled with enough mellow vibes and acoustic guitar to take you through to the weekend. My only grievance with Ben Wright Smith was their lack of percussion; I found it difficult to connect to the music when there was no rhythm or real depth. I’m sure that the stripped back band was billed intentionally to compliment Pete Murray, but it just seemed that the duo was working towards something that they couldn’t quite reach in their set. Fingers crossed they come back with their full band in tow soon.
When it came time for Pete Murray to take to the stage, the crowd was buzzing with excitement, so much so that every lighting change (prior to his entrance) elicited a string of ‘woo’s’ across the audience. Kicking off with tracks such as Sugar and Only One, the band reminded everyone what they’d been missing in their lives since Blue Sky Blue was released in 2011. After performing a couple of tracks off his latest album Camacho, Murray began to strum the chords of the crowd favourite, So Beautiful, only to stop moments later. You got us good Pete, you cheeky bugger.
The rest of his set was littered with slower, more mellow tracks that seemed to lose the attention of the crowd. While it was genuinely lovely to watch Pete croon over the crowd and ‘slow it down a bit’, it was (in my opinion) detrimental to the momentum of the set.
Around this point, Murray leaves the stage for a break, returning sans jacket and with a fresh guitar. If the middle-aged mums weren’t already swooning at this point, they certainly were now. The band then bursts into their title track, Camacho, a song filled with (momentarily) blinding riffs and sweet harmonies. As expected, Murray finished his set with old favourites, inviting mass sing-a-longs and audience participation. I’m not going to lie, the noughties music lover in me was pretty damn chuffed.
As it stands, Murray’s latest offering, Camacho is a fantastic album, but I can’t help thinking that his biggest competitors are his old albums. This was incredibly apparent at his live show on Thursday and I can’t help but think that the majority of the crowd had disregarded his latest releases and only shown up to see tracks like Opportunity and Better Days. Either way, this is an album (and a live show) that Pete Murray should be proud of. Treat yourself to a cheeky JB Hi Fi trip tomorrow because Camacho definitely deserves another spin on your car stereo.
Bree is a Newcastle import who survives off British television and hummus. She spends the majority of her time chasing bands up and down the east coast. Never without a set of headphones, you’ll often find her lost in a wormhole of related artists on Spotify. One day she hopes to impress people by being able to play more than one song on guitar.
If it's on in Newcastle, it's on Newcastle Live