Nick Murphy live at MTELUS

The singer’s performance made the audience see double—literally

Playing for the first time in Montreal under his new moniker, Nick Murphy, formerly known as Chet Faker, delighted his fans with a riveting concert last Friday. It was a performance that managed to blend his past, subdued records with his new, eclectic persona.

Chet Faker and Nick Murphy may be the same person, but they are two very different beasts. In five short years, Murphy’s sound and name metamorphosed from the moody and sensual tracks of Thinking in Textures to the bass-heavy, electronic tracks of Missing Link. Making a cohesive concert out of an extremely varied discography is no easy feat. But that’s exactly what fans were treated to.

The opening act consisted of techno music from Heathered Pearls and Montreal’s very own Charlotte Cardin. These performances consisted of an unexpected mix of electro and slow, grinding music, respectively. In retrospect, the first part of the show was a very good preview of what was to come.

Murphy started his set with new songs like “Your Time” and “Fear Less,” which were perfect choices to heat up the somewhat unenthusiastic crowd. From there, he moved on with fan favourites “1998” and “Talk is Cheap,” which were greeted with ardent acclamation. Combining his performance finesse with a fervent, on-stage charisma, Murphy, with sweat dripping from his long hair and beard, seemed in complete control.

Despite incorporating a plethora of different sounds, the concert never felt disjointed. The set list was crafted in a way that allowed the crowd and Murphy to breathe during calmer songs and then erupt with energy during the more bombastic pieces. The contrast in sound, which could have tanked the whole show, turned out to be one of its strongest assets.

Unfortunately, the sound quality wasn’t up to par with the performance. Too often, Murphy’s voice was almost impossible to hear because of the overpowering bass of the backing track and synth. This happened mainly during his more recent tracks, as they are typically more vivid in sound. It’s a shame; Murphy’s mellow voice is one his trademarks.

Choosing to drop his stage name and completely revamp his musical style was quite a risky move. Without very dedicated fans, his career could really have taken a hit. But, as two sold-out nights in a row clearly demonstrate, Nick Murphy has a very loyal fanbase.

His latest EP may have been greeted with mixed reception. But, after such a strong performance, hindered only by a few technical snags, the fans can now rest assured: Chet Faker may be gone, but Nick Murphy is here to stay.

Photo by Lyes Mahouche

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