Review by Lee Allen

WARNING: this is an unashamed love letter to Mr William James Murray aka Bill Murray.

There are certain people in this world who you feel you know, even though you have never met them or had any contact with them… I feel this way about Bill Murray.

For years I have watched and rewatched his films and fallen in love with his characters from Boss in Isle of Dogs to Pete Venkman in Ghostbusters via Raleigh St. Clare in The Royal Tenenbaums (the part were he tells Margot “Well, I want to die” always breaks my heart). I have poured over incredible stories of fan interactions that may or may not be true, but who cares it’s Bill Murray.

I long to drink whiskey in the roof bar of Park Hyatt in Tokyo in an ill fitting tux so I can be Bob Harris from Lost in Translation. And let’s be honest who wouldn’t want to hunt gofers with Carl Spackler the unhinged grounds keeper from Caddyshack?!

He has a face that says everything with a twitch, a voice that skips through accents like fingers on a rolodex and, a swagger that Liam Gallagher could only dream of. Women want to be with him and men want to be him… Bill Murray isn’t a god… He’s bigger than that.

Bill Murray, Jan Vogler and Friends Present: New Worlds

Photo courtesy of Dorn Music (dornmusic.com)

So what does this all have to do with a review on Gig Junkies? Well, last night Bill and friends arrived in London for the UK premiere of his debut album New Worlds at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. I have a been to a lot a of gigs but arriving at the RFH I had no idea what to expect. Would it be a room full of die hard film nerds or classical buffs wanting a fix from a world renowned trio of classical greats? It was both, as the lights dimmed it was odd to see people dressed in full Team Zissou uniforms sitting next to people in a tux ready for a night of classical musings. Whatever people had come for there was a wonderful air of excitement floating through the near sold out room. That room then erupted when Bill sauntered on stage holding he hands of pianist Vanessa Perez and violinist Mira Wang. In my head a voice screamed “that’s Bill Murray… THAT’S BILL FUCKING MURRAY!” yeah thanks for that brain – really cool!

Cellist Jan Vogler joined from the opposite side of the stage and the trio was now a quartet and we were good to go.

New World is a musical and literary box of curios that combines Bill and Jan’s mutual love of music and literature. It shines a spotlight on American values using both art forms and links artists from Europe and America. Poetry and classical music weave seamlessly together via “pop” songs and show-tunes. And that’s exactly what we got… starting with Bill reading Ernest Hemingway followed by the trio playing Bach. More Hemingway followed along with the glorious Song of Myself by Walt Whitman. At times the two overlapped and poetry and classical music mixed in to a heady unreal cocktail of whiskey induced charm.

For me the the devil was in the detail, as it always is with Bill, and one glorious moment saw him gently whisper in to the ear of Mira who set down her violin and gracefully started to tango with him. It was reminiscent of the end of Lost in Translation and quite literally there was an audible gasp from the people around us. A wonderfully mournful version of Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair by Stephen Foster saw Bill break out his miserable best and this was followed by the trio flexing their musical muscles with a classical music battle royale. The main set finished with a medley of Berstein, Somwhere, I Feel Pretty and America all from West Side Story. The sight of Bill gleefully skipping around the stage crooning I Feel Pretty would warm the heart of the coldest soul.

For me the real joy was too be found in the encore. All the players beamed ear to ear as they lead the RFH through a life affirming brilliant version of My Girl… I defiantly didn’t cry. No really I didn’t. This was followed by an incredibly intricate rendition of The Way It Is by Bruce Hornsby and the Range and then finishing up with Angel of Montgomery by John Prine. Once the music was all done Bill raced through the crowd throwing long stem roses to people and laughing like this was the greatest thing he had ever done.

As I write this 36 hours later it still all feels like a slightly odd cheese induced dream but to be honest if I could reproduce this with a lump of Brie before bed every night my weekly shopping bill would be huge. Thought provoking, hilarious, emotional and just straight up fun, a pretty much perfect night with my mate Bill.

One Response to “Bill Murray, Jan Vogler and Friends Present: New Worlds at Royal Festival Hall, London, UK – 4th June 2018”

  1. Mark Says:

    Bill Murray has played some amazing roles. Great read. I’m more lost in translation now, but I’m still caught in Groundhog Day.

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