Stage presence is difficult to pin down. It seems while some performers jabber away throughout and become dull blabbermouths, others can stand with a sullen, silent stoop and command the attention of everyone in the room.
With snow and relative obscurity deciding factors for this small turnout, thankfully last-minute replacement Case Hardin frontman Pete Gow’s self-deprecating Americana with a British feel struck just the right note.
By the time the night’s headliner, Tupelo, Mississippi’s finest, John Murry and his band, took to the stage that self-deprecation had seemingly morphed into self-doubt.
As Murry’s apparent flair for self-destruction (a heroin overdose nearly killed him; his response was reportedly “I’m fine with it”) seeped into the show, barely-audible muttered asides criticising his own songs and presumably intoxicated fumbling of opening chords threatened sabotage.
This was dismissed the moment Murry’s subtly uplifting country rock songs sprung to life with him in tow. Almost painted straight cartoon eyebrows exploded into David Byrne glares as sometimes shouted, sometimes stuttered mumbles commanded every emotion – every bit the equal of a Lou Reed outburst.
This band’s acclaimed, almost (dare I say it) life-affirming debut record, particularly on ten-minute piano opus Little Coloured Balloons, once unfettered became an entrancing, gritty delight.