Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Live Review: JON AUER, BEN BIRCHALL

Tuesday, February 27, 2007 
Northcote Social Club


The scorching heat and subsequent downpour preceding Jon Auer's gig was a perfect prelude to a night of intimate revelations, heartening stories and fluid guitar playing. The tables and chairs were out tonight, accentuating the intimacy of Auer's performance in a wholly chicken-in-a-basket way, and bringing out the 'cabaret' side in late-notice Laura Imbruglia-replacement, Ben Birchall.


Birchall, (though he'd likely disagree) may have invented the genre emo-folk. In a totally un-Conor way, Birchall has the voice, lyrics and chords to be the sort of performer who captures imaginations and, given time and exposure, creates a decent following. Though he sounded at times like he was missing a band (which it turns out he does have; The Corrections) and was playing and singing as though his guitar was an amped-up electric, his songs, delivery and charisma were top notch and the Jake Gyllenhaal-like appearence doesn't hurt either. His low-key banter and humour fitted his songs perfectly, of which Corazon - with it's ace guitar break, the sinister Don't Do Something Stupid and a vicious cover of (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love and Understanding? were highlights.


To an audience that looked as though it was full of adult Abigail Breslins, America Ferraras and their boyfriends, Jon Auer played a humble and glorious show. Giving stories behind many songs with a conversational candidness that contrasted beautifully with the measured honesty of his songs, it wasn't surprising that many of the curious left converted.
With an early warning about forthcoming "quasi-sensitive goth leanings" and an offer of free razors and a guide to nearby clawfoot bathtubs with each copy of his new CD, this was clearly not going to be a run-of-the-mill dour singer/songwriter show.
His obvious use of reverb and delay was a welcome addition, as was the audience members Sean (here christened Nigel because "it sounds more rock") and Julian Wu on drummed guitar case and keyboard respectively. Julian joined for a wonderful version of Six Feet Under, with an awesome story about it's near-inclusion on the TV show, indeed, it was these stories that illustrated the songs that were more memorable than the songs themselves, and it's not that the songs were poor - far from it. His bell-clear voice, clipped and atmospheric guitar style (most songs would involve several sensitively sung phrases followed by a heavy chop at the strings) were a distinctive and efficient way of relating his songs' message, but as an illustration of the man himself, it was hard to go past those stories.


When he disappeared off stage mid-gig and returned with a milk crate which he took to the back of the room and stood on to perform Throwaway, you knew it was a special gig from a stellar performer indeed. His rendition of another Posies song Coming Right Along was a moody Crazy Horse workout, and the serenaded encore Conversations sealed the deal that Jon Auer relates to his audience in a way others would spend lifetimes trying to achieve. An often hilarious and totally convincing show.


1 comment:

  1. What a lovely post! I will re-post this link for sure!

    ReplyDelete