“Murphy’s crowd-friendly demeanor a hit at Clay Center” – Charleston Daily Mail
Friday, June 20, 2014
Murphy’s crowd-friendly demeanor a hit at Clay Center
That much was obvious from his show at the Clay Center for the Performing Arts in Charleston Thursday night. The humble winner of NBC’s America’s Got Talent hopped from the stage to sing a song for his aunt in the audience celebrating her 97th birthday. He took a request from a woman in the front row. He danced with concert goers as he sang “Brick House,” and only smiled as one enthusiastic fan practically leapt on him.
Murphy seemingly had the crowd, which filled the orchestra and first balcony areas, eating out of the palm of his large hand. The lanky former car-detailer strutted onto the stage in a tailored three-piece darkly colored suit with a wide tie he said he’d picked up from Estep’s in Charleston 15 minutes before curtain.
“Usually I wear skinny ties because I’m a skinny guy,” he quipped, earning a laugh from the crowd.
Murphy is a showman. He sings. He dances. He tells jokes. And though he’s known for his take on Frank Sinatra classics, he branched out into Motown and some other classics. He also debuted a song he wrote in his garage for his third, yet-to-be named album.
He opened the show with “That’s Life” and “I’ve Got the World on a String,” both songs popularized by Sinatra. He followed those two with his take on “The Way You Look Tonight,” a wonderful song that sounded perfect with Landau’s jazzy swing. Thursday night’s concert, celebrating the 35th anniversary of HospiceCare and presented by Brickstreet, was the first time he’d performed the song, which will appear on his upcoming album.
Murphy, and the all-local musician Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. band, gracefully moved through a few more songs. At one point a bar set was brought out for “I Get a Kick Out of You” and “One For My Baby,” another debut performance of a song that will appear on the new album. His performance of the songs was expertly executed though I could have done without the bar being rolled onto the stage. It seemed kind of clunky.
After that set, the singers calling themselves LCB came out onto the stage. The men, Glenn Leonard, former lead vocalist for The Temptations, Joe Coleman, the voice of The Platters, and Joe Blunt, the lead singer for The Drifters, performed classic hits to the crowd’s delight.
If you’ve never heard 1,000 people whole-heartedly sing “Only You” with a real live Platter or “Under the Boardwalk” with a Drifter, you’re missing out. I’m fairly certain no one was sitting as they danced to the Temptations’ “The Way You Do the Things You Do.”
Murphy came back out after LCB’s six-song set and opened with a new arrangement of the classic “Come Fly With Me.” The tempo was only slightly increased which works for the high-energy Murphy.
The singer then spoke about his family and mentioned that his aunt was celebrating her 97th birthday in the audience. He struck up “A Song For You,” (beautifully done by Ray Charles if you’re curious or unfamiliar) and dedicated it to his aunt. This was the point when the athletic Murphy leapt off the stage mid-song and made his way through the audience to his aunt who was seated about midway back in the orchestra.
To me, this was a high-point in the night. The emotion he put behind the song gave me goosebumps.
Murphy’s debut of his first original song went well. It was a nice song but it somehow was lacking after Murphy’s stirring tribute to his aunt.
The crowd was up and dancing again when the Motown singers came back on stage to perform The Temptations hits “My Girl” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” complete with the oldies band’s famous move “The Temptations Walk.”
A woman in the front row got Murphy’s attention and asked him to perform “Mustang Sally,” and to her surprise — he did. The audience danced and cheered, singing along “Ride Sally Ride,” when appropriate. Murphy left the stage again during “Brick House” to dance with his fans, a memorable experience for them.
He ended the show with the Sinatra standard “My Way,” the same song he won with on the television talent show.
It was a great show and a good time. The songs performed were all well-known hits. While I personally think performing classic hits that everyone knows can be perilous for a performer because of the constant comparison between the original and the new, I think Murphy handles them well. He effortlessly brings a contemporary air to these timeless tunes, hopefully bringing them to a new generation of music lovers.
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at email@example.com or 304-348-4850.
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