Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Friday, February 23, 2007 
Prince Bandroom

Couches ring the stage tonight, the only concession made to the nature of the music by a venue clearly not expecting massive drink sales. Though CERES would have been the perfect place (clearly the VERY bored-looking sound engineer wishes he were somewhere else, too) The Prince is still brought to a hush, the likes of which it has rarely seen.

Guy Blackman plays a languid, earnest set to a sparsely populated room, as if Kermit had invited us down to his lilypad. Opening with A Dark and Quiet Place, Blackman is joined by Geoff O'Connor of The Crayon Fields. Following songs see the formation of a huge superstar band; Jessica (Says) Venebles, her brother Nick, Dale from The Groundies, Mark of The Lucksmiths, Julian of Minimum Chips and Nisa of Fabulous Diamonds.

Using them to excellent effect, Blackman is clearly out to make this a gig like none before, his orchestration and their improvisations are startlingly good.

Varying from the softly spoken opening songs, as the audience and band members increase in number, so does the intensity of the performance. Gayle's strong rhythmic edge elicits the noisiest reaction, and with the closing Beach Boys' cover Cuddle Up, Blackman adds even more strings to his already well-strung bow.

New Buffalo follow, and with the impressive accompaniment of John Lee, premiers many songs off her forthcoming album, a real treat for those present. Her recently released Cheer Me Up Thank You vocal-sample-laden single is a highlight, as is a chance to hear her timeless I've Got You and You've Got Me. New songs stay in the same lullaby-melody-warm-samples-and-poignant-refrain vein that she has all-but made her own, but her air of grace and quiet confidence gives them a golden glow. The sensitive arrangements and strong lyrics help reinstate her reign as indie-pop queen with her return and return to form.

Vashti. The rapturous reception quickly becomes a reverent silence as she sits with her guitar, quietly affirms her wonder at being in Australia and introduces Hidden. If Marianne Faithful ate organic food instead of smoking and shooting smack, you may have some idea of how miraculous it is to witness this reinvention of a lost 60s legend. Song after song comprises no more than simple chords, sparse and diverse accompaniment, wonderfully affecting lyrics and her unique breathy waver riding ancient melodies, all creating a delicate and rich mood broken only by camera flashes and the odd mobile.

Seamlessly balancing work from her recent Lookaftering and classic Just Another Diamond Day albums, Vashti is so full of wonder and appreciation at her reception that it brings smiles just to watch her face. Giving over a song apiece to her accompanying musicians Gareth Dixon and Jo Mango (who surely doubles her Myspace friend numbers tonight) is a great move. Later lamenting she'll have to find a new band soon, such is their talent, both songs fit perfectly and show how comfortable yet shyly humble she is as well as giving Dixon and Mango time to shine. Written during her now-legendary caravan ride from London, Rainbow River, Where I Like To Stand and Window Over The Bay are each mediations from a different traveller upon their Skye destination, and journeys in themselves, so pure and alien in their depictions.

Encoring with a crowd-pleasing Rosehip November, Vashti, Gareth and Jo make the stage a hearth with their warm smiles and equally toasty reception, the whole night melting into a pool of goodwill and ace tunes. Lovely.

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