Review: Olly Murs brings feel-good X factor to Newmarket Nights, August 18
- Credit: SEANA HUGHES
At Newmarket, the home of the king of sports, a prince of pop galloped across the stage and delivered a sterling performance fit for the historic Suffolk town.
Olly Murs, the upbeat Essex entertainer who found fame and fortune on the X Factor, worked to his strengths throughout. I was expecting a blend of his famous hits (I thought he had more than three number ones – all from 2011/12) and more obscure, middle-of-the-album tracks, known only by enthusiasts.
But instead he invoked Motown and 90s pop. Stevie Wonder and Tina Turner were particular masterstrokes which certainly got the crowd moving. They were interspersed too, not just a 10-minute flashback half way through.
This tactic perhaps revealed a lack of depth in his repertoire. It perhaps also opened him up to accusations of being a tribute act or even a wedding singer. But it was most welcome for me, and showed versatility and respect for other genres.
His vocals were perhaps slightly off at the beginning for You Don’t Know Love. His spring and summer tours, now obviously reaching a conclusion, would be his mitigation. He noticeably took long sips of water between the majority of the songs, creating a few awkward silent gaps, but his voice seemed to smoothen and improve expediently. He has a distinctive voice, and was exceptionally confident and cool in his audience repartee, if a little hackneyed.
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A nice touch was when Olly referenced the recent terror attacks, including the Manchester bombing, and said we would not be beaten by these “sick people”, prompting a loud cheer.
I thought he was at his best when creating a four-member group when the three talented backing singers and dancers joined him for a few retro hits. His body-popping, Michael Jackson inspired dance moves were on point.
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He may have won a few new fans on the night. He certainly gave his dedicated fans, who were not there for the racing (around 20 pitched up in the front row before the first race, with a clear look of ‘we’re not going anywhere’), what they wanted – a fun-loving, jovial, creative and entertaining show.