April 21, 2009

Concert Review: Alexi Murdoch

On Sunday night, one of my absolute favorite artists came to South Burlington's Higher Ground, Alexi Murdoch. Needless to say, I was a little more than excited to finally see him in person.

I've been a fan of Murdoch's since 2005, when I first heard his music, ironically, in the TV show House, MD or Prison Break (They both aired the song Orange Sky around the same time). I immediately fell in love with his complicated, yet minimal lyrics, and when his first full length album, Time Without Consequence, was released, I picked it up right away, and fell even more in love with his sound and style. He's also one of the earliest artists that I featured for this site.

Earlier this year, Murdoch announced a short tour of the US, something that he's never done before. (A fellow concert-goer noted that he did a tour of Canada and then Boston, which doesn't really count). I bought up a ticket right away, and last night was showtime. I missed the first act, Joshua Panda (whom I wasn't terribly interested in anyway) and caught the last couple songs by Dawn Landis, who was absolutely fantastic - I just covered her here, and will hopefully be talking about her new album soon.

Then Alexi Murdoch and his group came on stage. After some technical problems, they started off with the song Through The Dark, which has since been featured in a couple of movies and TV shows, and will be featured on his next album, which I'll talk about in a moment. The rest of the set was a great mix of new and old songs. One of my biggest complaints for Murdoch has been his lack of new material in three or four years, but after listening to him last night, I can easily say that the wait was worth it. The new songs feel very much like the ones on Time Without Consequence, but with new energy. It feels very much like the differences between Nick Drake's albums Five Leaves Left and Bryter Layer. Murdoch has clearly been at work, apparently in the Himalayas, for some of this new material, and it shows.

The comparison to Nick Drake isn't an accident - I've felt that Murdoch is a more modern and updated version of Drake, although not a copy, but clearly a contemporary of the man. On stage, this seems even more apparent. The lights were dim the entire time, and I doubt that I could have taken any good pictures if I'd been allowed to use my camera. Alexi seemed very shy on stage - very confident, and witty at points, but unlike some artists that I've seen, who interact a bit with the crowd, he essentially kept to himself, talking a moment between songs, but sticking mainly with the music.

He did note that he will be releasing a new record, and if you're lucky enough to see him in person while he's in the US, you can buy a limited version of it for $15. For those of you who can't make it out to see him, it sounds like the new album will be released this year, and is titled Towards the Sun, with the following songs: Towards the Sun, At Your Door, Some Day Soon, Slow Revolution, Through The Dark, Her Hands Were Leaves and Crinian Wood. That seems a little light, and I'm hoping that we'll hear a couple more songs on there when it's released. He didn't say when we'll see a release for this, but whenever I find something about it, I'll be on the horn right away.

On stage, Murdoch is a formidable, yet minimal presence. While his group isn't loud and overwhelming, they are absolutely fantastic. The songs that we heard were crisp, and rich in sound, with a variety of beats and rhythms, such as on Shine and Dream of Flying, and especially so with some of his newer songs. After listening to this show, I had chills, especially after his fantastic rendition of Orange Sky, which is in my mind, one of the greatest songs ever created in this genre. But even more so, I'm looking more and more forward to this next album. It's going to be very, very good.

The Set List:

  • Through The Dark
  • Some Day Soon, New Song
  • Home
  • All Of My Days
  • Sky Pouring In (?), New Song
  • Dream of Flying
  • Shine
  • Crinian Wood, New Song
  • Slow Revolution, New Song
  • Orange Sky
  • Unfinished Song, No Title

Orange Sky - Alexi Murdoch