The Dan Lethbridge 3 – January Residency 15/1/16

A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence” (Leopold Stokowski)

And quite simply, Dan Lethbridge does just that.

Growing up with a father who I think secretly wished to live off the land in the middle of the NSW nowhere, by the time I was 6 I could name every breed of cattle on sight. Towns; Glen Innes, Moree, Goondiwindi, I knew them all, to a back drop of alt-country, folk and R&B. So it’s no surprise that as I listened to the mellow reflections on life and love, (a narrative that has somehow distinctly Australian authenticity), that my mind was filled with images of past.

It took one listen of the up tempo, infectious, I Want You With Me, to know that I had to hear this band live. I waited 3 months for their next gig, the album launch of Inner Western, last October. That night, Dan Lethbridge and The Campaigners, (an 8 piece on that occasion), took to the stage and excited the crowd with an energetic cohesive performance. I’ve said that there are only three musical acts that I would gladly see every performance, well Dan Lethbridge is one of those three. In this incarnation, The Dan Lethbridge 3, is stripped back to bass, drums and Dan on vocals and guitar. I liked them so much I saw them two weeks in a row! Fortunately for me, the band was only half way through their January residency. So last Friday, I again ventured to the Post Office Hotel, different friends in tow, to join some of the other now familiar faces in the ever growing crowd.

Taking to the stage in typically laid back style for the first of two sets, the DL3, had me smiling immediately. The opening song, If You Don’t Say It, with it’s melancholy guitar, drew my thoughts to the memory of a solitary figure quietly staring at the wind dance across a field of wheat on a stifling Summer’s day. Then, my favourite, Close The Deal, with it’s crooning vocal and barefoot slow dance almost 50’s rock and roll tempo. The set also featured,(from the acclaimed 2012 release, Oh Hawke), Hard To Fight, a tale of being on the skids, with its’ typically alt-country ballad guitar and crisp vocal. Added to the mix a great cover of the sombre, Van Occupanther. The set finished with the popular more traditional country, Wish For What You Had, with Dan telling us that, “round and round we go until the end you’ll only wish for what you had“. We were convinced!

A couple of drinks and it was on to set two. Often when a band plays two sets, the second tends to lack something, but not in this case. This set was a mixture of covers, including brilliant versions of Marry Song and Cannibal’s Hymn, and up tempo numbers from Oh Hawke and Inner Western. A highlight, the contrast of the lively almost playful jazz style beat and vocal of, Do No Harm, which contradicts the somewhat sober lyrics. One song I have on repeat. Add, the sing-a-long, Hey Lover and of course the rockin, I Want You With Me.

Dan Lethbridge’s songs effortlessly cross genres from folk to R&B to alt-country and indie rock. His lyrics tell stories and paint pictures. They manage to convey complex sometimes dark emotions yet somehow contain an optimism and often humor, all remain with you. The crowd, at least half being regulars I’d seen at other DL gigs, clearly enjoyed every song. The band, as a trio, was perfect for the very relaxed surrounds. The DL3 perform with an ease, gentle humor and good-natured banter both among the band and with the crowd. Therefore seem very personable and approachable, so there isn’t that appearance of distance between performer and audience that is sometimes evident at gigs.

As we leave and I hope I have at least a couple of good pics, I think, well, if not, there’s always next Friday…..

Blog12

blog23

blog21

Blog3

Blog4

blog19

blog16

http://www.danlethbridge.com/

Advertisements

Mythologies – Michael Plater Album Launch 10/1/16

all of those broken down cowboys with their hearts on their sleeves. They go down so fast they fall so easily….

It was the first 15 seconds that echo, with a single guitar strumming an indie rock beat that first grabbed my attention. Follow with a build up of drums, bass and harmonica, add the distinctive resonating edgy vocal, and that was my introduction to Melbourne singer/songwriter, Michael Plater and a song I still can’t get out of head, Pretty Maids.

With a sound that’s been described as indie, folk, a little bit country, almost gothic and with “noir” influences, it’s this distinctive guitar and vocal that creates a mood that separates Michael from the crowd. It was last year at a PJ Harvey Tribute show that I first discovered Michael Plater. I couldn’t tell you which songs he performed on that night but his voice and performance style left a lasting impression. Although in some ways reminiscent of The Triffids, Velvet Underground and Lloyd Cole, his sound has a singularity that separates him.

So it was on yet another hot Sunday Summer evening that I ventured to The Tote in Collingwood for the launch of his second solo album, Mythologies, a follow up to the critically acclaimed 2012 solo debut, Exit Keys.

Supported by four other acts, Michael performed after the first three supports. First up; Bronwyn Adams, a one woman show with a haunting eclectic quality that was part performance, part poetry. Next, Henry Hugo, who currently resides in one of my top places, Switzerland. Vocally reminiscent of Nick Cave, his songs have a deep rich sound with a slow almost hypnotic guitar and beat. Having been completely unfamiliar with his music, (as it’s a departure from what I usually listen to), I’ve since played his recent release, Noctuary Songs, and May Queen, is already on repeat.

And now for the main event. The set list began in his typically understated style, without fanfare, but from the first guitar chord of the ballad, Reflections of a Dream, Michael had  command of the room. It’s not often at a gig, that the audience is completely absorbed in the performance. Next up, We’re All Drunk Again, with its Americana feel, first appears a light fun song but actually has quite a dark edge. We Lit the Lamps, slow, intense and full of emotion followed. Then, other favourites; The Officers Mess and Pretty Maids, both with a more acoustic feel that builds. Finally, it’s the guitar/harmonica combination in, Old Victories, that draws me in.

The songs are ballads, stories and emotions accompanied by a strong rhythmic or acoustic indie guitar sound and beat. Sometimes add percussion, sometimes not. Sometimes indie rock, sometimes more folk. Each song has the right balance. To me, it’s almost as if the music is there to enhance the words, thoughts and ideas. Lyrics of introspection and observation accompanied by great chord combinations and that vocal, is what really holds my attention.

The set of six new tracks, then finishing with, Rings of Smoke from his debut album, was over too quickly. I was just settling in.

blog35

Michael Plater

blog28

Michael Plater

blog31

Michael Plater

blog38

Henry Hugo

blog30

Michael Plater

https://michaelplater.bandcamp.com/

https://henryhugo.bandcamp.com/album/noctuary-songs

The Basics – Tinder Knight 2, 2/1/16

When I said I was starting 2016 with a Tinder night, I think it was assumed I was going to a slightly different “love in” than was the Northcote Social club. However, 2016 for me, did begin with a smile and a definite swipe to the right!

Thanks to Wally coming home for Christmas, the indefinite hiatus announced at their Melbourne Cup Eve gig, temporarily modified to an intermission of sorts, with The Basics together again for the one-off Tinder Knight 2. This “love in” was the guys stripped back, in the round, with the just over 200 sold out audience, stretched out on the floor around them. Tim and Kris acoustic and Wally swapping drums for a Wurlitzer.

What has this to do with Tinder you ask? A gig with some sort of dating twist perhaps? Not such a bad idea! However, simply, the original Tinder Knight began as a word of mouth secret gig on a Tuesday night last February. The name evolved because the band figured Tuesday nights were slow nights so everyone was probably at home on Tinder. Not everyone, guys! The name is now recognised by Basics followers as a night of covers, their own tracks and audience requests, if copies of the sheet music or at least chords are brought along. Kris had requested everyone sit on the floor as the last Tinder Knight went for 3hrs. At first we thought this would detract from the performance, even though I was basically beside Wally’s chair, but it was perfect and allowed the music to just happen.

Admitting there was no set list, they began, and immediately I was smiling when I heard Wally’s gentle vocal and the unmistakable opening chords of my absolute best loved Beatles track, In My Life. The room instantly fell silent and already I knew, that this night was going to exceed any expectations. Next, was the up tempo Beatles version of Ain’t She Sweet. Then, what followed was a mixture of Basics tracks, covers and audience requests. The musicianship of the group was evident as the next two and bit hours was an eclectic mix of songs that crossed nearly all genres interspersed with the usual Basics humour, story telling and good-natured banter that kept me smiling until my cheeks hurt.

The two sets had a laid back feel with songs sometimes being chosen because someone had shouted out a name. This happened when a shout out “George Michael” resulted in a lively fun version of Faith. The Beatles featured again with Wally and Kris nailing two of my other favourite tracks; Golden Slumbers and If I Fell. The consensus being, oh not Ringo, George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass was also sung. Being seated, we clapped along to The Everly Brothers’ Wake Up Little Susie and sang along to All I Have To Do Is Dream. We stamped our feet when they rocked out Rebel Rebel and as a tribute to Stevie Wright, I’ll Make You Happy, which many knew from their Rockwiz performance.

Other highlights were the underrated Real Men, (Joe Jackson), and the surprising Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm, (Crash Test Dummies). I felt a momentary rush of patriotism during one of the best versions of Eric Bogle’s The Band Played Waltzing Matilda, I’ve heard and Tim had me captivated when he swapped his guitar for keys and quietly performed a beautiful rendition of Neil Young’s Birds. But it was Wally’s haunting vocal on Songbird, that held the room once more.

Whilst not as many brought music as I had expected, we were treated to audience requests; Sister Madly and I Got You. And despite Tim protesting having to play The Eagles, Lyin Eyes was successfully requested. Some of their own songs were also in the mix, including two that I love and haven’t heard live for a while being Memory Lane and Home Again.

But the two most memorable moments of the night were Tim on keys for Hey Rain, with an extra made up on the spot verse about cane toads due to the frog in Wally’s throat, which had us in stitches, and the requested I Walk The Line which somehow ended up a Johnny Cash/Cookie Monster mash up.

Final song of the night was an as usual brilliant version of Comfortably Numb and the band as always, seemed to reluctantly exit.

Kris and Wally stayed chatting to the crowd during the break between sets and I did mention to Kris that not all musicians can play on request with no rehearsal, as I was once again reminded that these guys seem to be able to effortlessly play anything.

His response was simply, “it’s just chords”…….. and I guess it is!

blog12

Wally De Backer

blog11

Wally De Backer

blog14

Tim Heath

blog10

Kris Schroeder

https://thebasics.bandcamp.com/album/leftovers-2

2015 in Review-My Musical Medley

John Cusack told me in High Fidelity that, a good mix tape is like writing a letter. There’s a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again. You’ve got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention and then you’ve got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch .… 2015 was my mix tape, but after seeing 50 gigs, and I could’ve seen many more, for Melbourne, is, music, could I narrow it to my top 5?

January 1, 2016, there won’t be any new years resolutions from this gal, because we all know that resolutions remain resolute for about the amount of time it takes hungover and draped over the couch, to find the remote control and change the channel. So rather than look forward, as I contemplate the logistics of finding said remote without movement on my part, here is my year of live music that in some way, blew me away.

My friends will tell you that I gush endlessly about Husky so it was somehow fitting, (although completely random), that the first and last gigs of 2015 for me, were in fact, Husky. 2015 began with Husky on a 40 degree Summer evening, outdoors in the cool leafy space behind the NGV International that gave the gig a lazy sumptuous feel. 2015 ended on December 19, a 42 degree day with Husky at NSC where I was as mesmerised as on that earlier February day.

But before the cheers of the final 5, here are my thoughts on those of the other 45 that have stuck in my mind.

The Perfections, a fave from 2013-14, and self proclaimed as Melbourne’s laziest garage soul band kicked ass in February with Christina’s vocals. She could be the love child of Tina Turner and Chrissy Amphlett if that was possible!
A final Bennetts Lane gig with The Furbelows in June transported me to the 40’s with songs of times past, with the exquisite harmonies of the 3 vocalists.
Amistat’s folky goodness charmed with their easy rapport, funny stories and gentle harmonies, then, Marlon Williams’ ballads and vocal gymnastics left us speechless.
Sydney’s Squeeze Box Trio, a 5 piece gypsy swing band, had the whole joint squeeze box jumpin to gypsy beats that had me dancing until my feet ached!
Follow with, the night of every song with a 3/4 (waltz) beat from the somewhat eccentric but wonderful, Captain Apples.
And, absolute highlights for a gal that is indie folk/country at heart, were Ben Whiting, James Fahy, Hugh McGinlay and Dan Lethbridge, whose lyrics all weave wonderful stories.
Having a predilection for Paris in the time of Hemingway and Gauguin, add to the mix, a regular indulgence of French chanson that made me swoon, from crooners, Merime, Paul Gillette and La Mauvaise Reputation.
And finally, Queenscliff Music Festival where I was blown away by The California Honeydrops, Mustered Courage and Melbourne Ska Orchestra, whilst coming home to, Lior and Hoodoo Gurus.

But these 5 were something extra special:

The Basics – Gasometer
Middle of the floor, in the round, everyone huddled around them, an easy banter that comes from playing together a long time, they had the crowd from the first drum beat. For over 2hrs, the musical brilliance of Wally De Backer held me spellbound culminating in a version of Fleetwood Mac’s Songbird.

Rubber Soul Revolver – Arts Centre
A rare opportunity, 3 rows from the front, to see, Jordie Lane, Marlon Williams, Husky Gawenda and Fergus Linacre perform The Beatles Rubber Soul and Revolver albums back to back. Individually and as a group they not only did justice to the The Beatles but made the songs their own.

Husky – Private Gig
Lucky enough to be one of a handful sat around a grand piano, with music that soared.

Three Writers Sing Their Words – Conduit Arts
A truly acoustic gig, no mics, no amps, just three guys and their guitars. James Fahy, James Hazelden and Floyd Thursby did just that. Each performer taking turns, one song each. This allowed a night of humour, stories and song. A delight.

Number 5 is a 3 way tie…cheating I know!

David Bowie Ziggy Stardust From the Top – featured the who’s who of local musicians. Highlights were James Fahy – Life on Mars, Baby Grace – Strangers When We Meet and Pete Whelan embodied Bowie with The Jean Genie

Changes – A Bowie Tribute – performers unleashed their inner Bowie. As I’ve already reviewed this gig I’ll just say, read my review! Highlights; Michael Plater and Sam Sejavka.

The Secret History of Song – Take a true folk soul, Mandy Connell and add provocateur balladeer, Floyd Thursby and you get a singular musical experience focused on the origin of the song, inspiration for the song and if the song was completely original at all. One gig I wanted more of.

…..and you can’t have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you’ve done the whole thing in pairs, and … oh there are loads of rules. But, really, there are no rules, for me, often it’s the indefinable.

blog9

Michael Plater

blog8

Dan Lethbridge

blog23

Husky

blog5

Lior

blog 3

Mustered Courage