Olly Murs delivers all at punchy York Racecourse performance, Charlotte McCulloch reports.
“Ermmm….no, thank you!”, I reply (somewhat flustered) to a gentleman on the door who asks me if I’d like to place a bet. “I’m looking for Olly Murs”.
It’s a Saturday evening at the York Racecourse and following a day’s frivolities, the attentions of the already-merry racegoers turn towards the stage at the far end of the picnic enclosure, where thickening hordes of well-dressed ladies and gents are already spilling into the grassy opening.
Visible from a mile, are the devout. ‘I CAN SEE HIM’ shrieks one delighted young lady to my left, as a pace-gathering ripple of applause breaks out, punctuated only by excited cheers and squeals.
A series of personalised shout-outs are read, marking individual birthdays, anniversaries, engagements etc. as an incredibly warm, bright and positive air washes over the effervescent crowd.
Hushing the congregation and subduing them into a suspenseful silence, a slightly tiresome X Factor style countdown begins. “Really?” I think to myself, “are we still flogging that dead horse?”. No sooner have I considered this that I find myself involuntarily foot-tapping along to the beat of Murs’ first number in his chosen set-list, September 2016’s chart-topper, ‘You don’t know love’.
Combining consistently-rich vocals with the irresistible throb of an electric rhythm, Murs shows himself to be quite the frontman, complementing all this with his abundant charisma, charm and amiability. Ever humble, he reflects with the audience on his own beginnings, truly grateful to his following for their support and encouragement before, very appropriately, lulling them into a similarly reflective state with the slightly slower and decidedly more mellow ballad, ‘Grow Up’ (2016).
Showing himself to be a natural performer, Murs wastes no time, launching straight from this into the similarly crowd-pleasing ‘Wrapped up’ from his 2014 album Never Been Better, finishing with a punch. Continuing on without delay into the rousing techno-jazz vibes of ‘Stevie Knows’, Murs explicitly nods to Stevie Wonder himself, melting seamlessly into a rendition of ‘Superstition’. It is following this, that Murs formally addresses his spirited audience, thanking them (very tastefully) for their attendance in spite of recent harrowing events and for their infectious positivity and enthusiasm.
What follows is a vibrant and fun lineup including hit singles from both his days on The X Factor stage in 2009 as well as his newest works from his most recent album, 24 HRS (2016). Suffusing his set are more than a handful of covers. Keen to cater to all, Murs begins a ten-minute throwback session replete with songs from as far back as the 70s, filling the venue with a renewed buzz.
Looking around, I can’t help but be struck by the diversity. The atmosphere is so jovial, that the music itself is almost by-the-by. Dotted among the sea of raised smartphones, I see not only thrilled young women fighting for a spot near the front, but whole families too. Small children dance on shoulders, while older ladies and gents sing along, Pimms glasses in-hand, all either oblivious to or entirely unfazed by the threat of looming rain clouds.
A truly adaptable performer, oozing with pizazz and clearly able to work any crowd, Murs finishes with his single ‘Years and Years’ (24HRS, 2016) in what can only be described as an uplifting finale.