Jazz Café, Friday 14th September 2018
Murs made his name in the 90s as part of the California-based, aptly-named Living Legends crew and years of independent hustling have led him to the rightful status as one of the finest talents to emerge from the US indie scene. Coming from the pre-Internet era when a live show was the only way to gain both respect and a fanbase he has forged a career which at one point saw him on the cusp of mainstream acclaim. Throughout his 20+ years in the game he has earned a reputation for being a brutally honest, boundary-pushing artist who speaks on the easily related daily struggles that the average person faces, a stark contrast to the braggadocious attitude of many of his peers.
He brought his live show to London on Friday 14th September as a loyal group of followers huddled into the tightly packed Jazz Café to show their appreciation. The Camden venue continues to be the number one place in London to watch underground acts from over the pond and always attracts a diverse, upbeat crowd. The evening started with a performance from UK group The Age Of L.U.N.A. who warmed the crowd up with their quirky and bouncy set. This was quickly followed by an explosive performance from US rapper Dee-1, whose infectious brand of high-energy, unshakeable positivity quickly won the crowd over and even threatened to overshadow the main event with his engaging crowd interaction and humility.
But Murs is a consummate professional, an artist who has crafted and perfected a live show that has stood the test for over two decades. An artist who once rapped “If I don’t rap every night, I might lose a fan / So even if I got the flu I got a mic in my hand…” So when he emerged holding two crutches and slowly limped onto the stage fans greeted him with a sense of confusion and concern. Was the living legend going to be able to hit peak form with this unexpected injury? After quickly explaining that he’d injured himself playing basketball with Dee-1 he answered that question in the best possible way, running through gem after gem from his extensive discography with the sort of enthusiasm and passion that few can match.
His newer fanbase were able to enjoy his recent songs, ranging from heartfelt tales about personal tragedies he’d faced all the way to an ode to his fresh kicks. His ability to incorporate such a drastic range of moods into his set is very comparable to a typical Murs album — at times it’s so honest it’s funny, but very quickly he can transition into a song about something so much more poignant without ever missing a step. Older fans were treated to several selections from his collaborative 9th Wonder albums and although a few tracks from his early Living Legends days would’ve been welcomed by many it shows the strength of his catalogue that so many great songs had to be left off the set list. His crowd interaction was outstanding and his mobility, while somewhat affected by his injury, didn’t stop him making his presence known to all corners of the crowd.
With great warm up acts and a thoroughly receptive audience Murs found he had all the support he needed to ensure that, despite an injury, he stood firm and further cemented his legendary status.
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