Bill Murray and Jan Vogler
November 9, 2018
I have yet to meet somebody who dislikes the man and it is certainly a hard feat giving the decades of laughter and bemusement his career has bestowed on us. His collaboration with classically trained cellist Jan Vogler, a luminary in his own right, is centred around a well-documented chance meeting at an airport which evolved to what found its incarnation tonight at Sydney’s Opera House.
Flanked by pianist Vanessa Perez and Jan Vogler’s partner Mira Wang, who complete the troika that Bill Murray finds himself in the midst of.
The evening is an interesting off kilter melange of highbrow classical music interludes, Murray reciting classics of the tenor of North American prose and expertly infusing poetry with his trademark DNA and him crooning, dancing, joking and everything in between, meandering territory from Mark Twain via Franz Schubert to Walt Whitman.
Now, the audience is dotted with aficionados wearing Team Zissou red hats to show their devoutness and it is palpable that a lot of Murray’s fans think that he is a genius and can do no wrong. I personally found Murray’s refreshing first address to the audience quite fitting: The performance is many things – funny, thought provoking, whimsical, tedious, drawn out, hilarious, enjoyable, deliberately foolish, heartfelt, silly, sad and self-indulgent.
The one constant is the superb performance of Jan Vogler and the female constituents of his chamber outfit, whose effortless deliveries are a delight to not only listen but also eye candy.
It certainly is an experience to see Murray perform in the third dimension and reassuring how this fine mimic achieves big results with the tiniest of gestures and the fact that he does not take himself too seriously while still showing respect for the works he is presenting and referencing, however, at times his emissions are a mixed bag. The good thing is that he is aware of it and does not try to camouflage the patchy pointless parts but is committed to the performance with conviction. A man that exists in multitudes.
The audience lapped it up and with most of them, Murray can do no wrong. Despite the adoration, the more than two-hour long performance was moving, powerful, surprisingly physical and unlike anything that you would expect based on the backgrounds of the individual protagonists, the poetry recited and or the music being performed.
Photo: Bill Murray and Jan Vogler - New Worlds album cover