Monday, November 16, 2009


Monday, September 17, 2007 
The Rob Roy

'This is an Australian folk tale, a true story' says Donnie Dureau as he begins his song Harry Baker. He could have been talking about most of the songs he plays tonight, so easily does he slip into their characters and so casual is his demeanour; many sound like they are being beamed in directly from different points of the last 40 years of Australian folk history. Mainly though, we get 90s-00s jangly folk strumming backing carefully chosen phrases of insight, which is just fine, especially on songs like Venus Laughing and the closing Rain. More commonly seen fronting Blueline Medic, there are clearly songs here for an enduring solo career on the festival circuit should he choose.

Next up is the husky-voiced, Sandoval-esque Amaya Laucirica. Like Dureau she usually has a band backing her, and tonight she could use them - or at least some of them - to break up what swiftly becomes a very samey set. Though her voice is a thing of warm-fluffy-towel-type cosiness, her constant walking sway while singing and occasional aside like 'I didn't cut my nails, ah, the show goes on,' are beguiling, the subject matter is a little too cliche and songs like Slow Down and Walkin' Through Your Town are perhaps best listened to on headphones while snuggling into a bean bag.

The same which cannot be said for tonight's headliner Kat Frankie. If you don't already know she lives in Berlin you sure do by the end of the night, with many songs being directly inspired by her relocation and all of them thoroughly road-tested there. There is a Teutonic directness to her presence, her writing and her playing that leaves you thinking you could put almost any performer on this bill and she would make the night her own. Opening with the minimal and delicate This Will Be The Death of Me - a rare moment of frailty in an otherwise storming gig - she eases, with minimal banter, into the uncharacteristically content Happy. When drummer and producer Simon Ayton joins for Fake (which he swiftly turns into an exhibit from Drum Expo 07), Frankie responds by raising her energy, but to the detriment of some lyrics. Bassist Alex Szkutenko joins for a ferocious version of Blameless, bringing her Tessa Pollitt-like authority to the low end and raises Frankie's performance even higher. Once the mix and Ayton have settled we're treated to a wonderful version of one-time Inpress Single of the Week The Tops and Everything Everything where the whole band rides the dynamic shifts like pros. Frankie is riveting in her commitment to the songs and while The Fainthearted Ones hangs by a thread and uses silence in a way few songwriters have the courage to, the follow up Berlin Cops (which wouldn't be out of place on an album by Dutch punks The Ex) indicates that it is possible to intimidate her, a concept she then confounds with a blistering barely-holding-it-together version of her single Serves You Right For Using Violence. Most of these songs are on the album she is here to launch, and, as the huddle around the merch desk afterward indicates, that's quite a record, and quite a performer.

No comments:

Post a Comment