Saturday, October 24, 2009


The Toff In Town

Though, as Mr. Grand Salvo himself, Paddy Mann says: "It's like playing a gig at a friend's house whose parents happen to be really rich," The Toff does showcase the tender sounds of both acts rather well. Grand Salvo's show sees Mann stay front and centre while guests wander on and off, contributing some softly malleted drums here (Oliver Mann), wonderfully subtle cello there (Jess Venebles) and stunning harmonies throughout the whole show (Zoe Rambles). Seeming to be a performer who is highly sensitive to the environment in which he plays, Mann is tonight treated with great respect by the venue and audience. This means songs such as In The Morning, Brave Like A Goose and Drifting, and songs that seem like they're called I Dreamed About My Home, I Know That I'll Be Here When You Come Home and Back To Your Sweet Side sound full-bodied and complete despite hanging together on the slenderest of threads as compositions. It's this tenuousness of these songs that can render them either soporific or stunning, and tonight it's the latter. There is little doubt Mann is an extraordinarily evocative songwriter, anyone who can take a word like 'quim' and make it work is clearly ploughing his own fruitful furrow, but just when though, will these cracking new songs be released?

Guy Blackman expounds upon his songs with a stellar team - all of whom are on top form tonight. Though Blackman is 'feeling very snotty I'll have you understand,' his voice is still as emotive and plaintive as ever. Being Missed takes us into his world of acute observations, private meditations, and wistful rejections all coloured with the lure of retreat. With a two month overseas tour with Geoff O'Connor (of The Crayon Fields, Sly Hats and seemingly several dozen backing bands, Blackman's included) and Jens Lekman (of private fantasies everywhere) beckoning, this show was an album launch of sorts. Though the product itself won't be available until October, this unfamiliarity is no sticking point, and many songs such as Act Like You Don't, Carlton North, Unsteady (featuring a lovely, reedy vocal turn from Venebles), the Pastels-ish funk of Gayle, and the perfectly judged closing cover of (Come Up And See Me) Make Me Smile hit the spot and show Blackman to be a man with more than just breathtaking honesty and a handsome profile going for him. Partway through this last song, midnight strikes and dual-performer Jess Venebles turns 20, or as Blackman says; "Jess, by the middle of this song, you will no longer be teenager." This is the man we're exporting, Australian tendency for unflinching honesty to the fore for maximum impact. Nice

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