Floppy as a rag-doll, tender as a wisp, yet fleeting as a sandpit spirit. She is capable of spitting venom straight into your eye – because Tairrie (B ) Murphy encapsulates the wrath of a viper and the roar of a cornered beast. And as she stepped out onto the stage at the Scala, London on Saturday night she confronted her world. “Contrary to popular belief I AM NOT DEAD YET !” She yelled. The audience replied with hysteric applause.
Tairrie roared and reeled around the stage, seething with an unworldly pent up fury. Her voice emblazoned by the molten guitars of Mick, shimmering off the back of dazzling bass guitar from Eddie Brnabic (poached from L.A. band Beggars Ball.)
Howling, hissing, spitting – she was like a panther-cat lurking – and when she seized the microphone stand and scanned the crowd, we harboured the question – why the vitriol? And the answer came back. “This is an elegy… This is a eulogy.” Theirs is a hymn, sung out loud, against all the world plotters, the greedy bankers, the corporate whore-mongers and the hounds of global domination. My Ruin stands out in protest against a world corrupted by woeful greed, sinful intolerance and riddled with selfish intent. And when the songs explode out, either on stage or through your speakers, you had better stand back.
But Tairrie also displays a vulnerable underbelly. No matter how formidable those dire-wolf fangs of hers are, you would still dearly love to cradle her into your arms and bless her. Because she possesses a poignant vulnerable flip-side to her frightening stage persona. And that is Tairrie’s true talent. She splices that dark menacing splendor with angelic harmony. Draped tenderly across her own adoring acolytes at the very edge of her stage, her head resting casually on shoulders of the crowd she loves, she exudes tenderness, power and strength. And the audience at the Scala tap into this force. Those that harness this energy become one with the band.
My Ruin encapsulates the DIY ethic, the independent streak, and that ‘stick it to the man’ spirit, that many rock musicians seem to have lost along their pathway to growing enrichment. And so it seems that Mick and Tairrie stand alone in a brutal and hostile landscape. But they stand up for something that has value, currency and decency. They stand for loyalty and commitment, for doing things right for their fans and supporters. They stand for being true to themselves. This feels so important, especially right now.
Show songs included some favourites from the magnificent ‘Ghosts And Good Stories’ album, but much of the set was taken up with songs from the band’s sensational new album “A Southern Revelation”. This (seventh) My Ruin recording is, characteristically, being given ‘away free’ (for download) by the band ‘as a protest’ against greedy labels and as a thanking to the fans. And the song ‘Middle Finger’ sums up the anger of the couple. Their fury is finally unleashed, unbridled, into one long rant. This song is a cathartic release of spewing hatred. Smooth and elegant sneers of guitar are smudged across the loosely flayed drums and the perpetual battery of shameless taunting voices.
Stand out song on the night was, for me, ‘Tennessee Elegy’ – a construct of passionate crumbling beauty. Experiencing this live was like being pushed roughly into a lava pit. Mick’s guitars flickered and flared across the flaming landscape, while the audience could not help but gasp in despair … as if each breath of the sulphuric air they swallowed made them instinctively gag. During this relentless song I felt in constant fearful anticipation of terrifying and immediate suffocation. Mick scattered some notes of pure anguish around the hall – that were more like streams of hydrogen bursting from a supernova- than any guitar sounds I have ever heard. And Tairrie’s voice soared out of the abyss, screaming with determination and potent power.
My Ruin are truly vital. Truly heroic. Heavy metal savants.
© Neil_Mach January 2012
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