Monday, December 7, 2009


Sunday, June 08, 2008 
Wesley Anne

Though the Wesley Anne - one of the warmer and more reassuringly consistent venues in Melbourne - is but half-full, those here are clearly gladdened by tonight's performers all of whom soar as a result. Though it's likely that Tom Flatman would exist as a performer were it not for Jeff Buckley releasing Grace, he would probably be a very different one. Clearly at home on stage and featuring one of the quietest trumpeter players ever backing him with his refreshingly minimal electric guitarist, Flatman's voice and songwriting skills - though awfully reminiscent when he goes for the frequent high notes - are mighty talents. He has the room hushed from the moment he begins his set to the rousing end of his cover of Springsteen's Lift Me Up and has us cracking up via an inadvertently hilarious guitar non-solo. A real discovery.

Playing his last show before beginning an enviously comprehensive Icelandic and European tour, Pete Uhlenbruch is on odd but marvelous form. Variously likening one of his songs to "a restless universal spirit that has no home", while another is inspired by the thought that "every atom is popping into and out of the universe, but in more of a personal way" it's to his credit that Uhlenbruch has enough talent and gravitas to his songs to not come across like a cosmic hippy. Instead his supreme confidence and utterly engaging way with the guitar and mic that give his songs the ability to hit home from the first chord. It's easy to forget with his administrative roles as organiser of the Laterra (now Melodica) Festival, coordinator of Undercover Music Lovers and erstwhile promoter that he is also a evocative songwriter. Leaving Too Soon, Heart Of The Mountain and By The Riverside are all worthy tributes to his muses, and we can be sure his ambassadorship is in good hands.

Joining the first three acts this evening is Sydney singer Nicolle Lane, who proceeds to lift Hazelman Brother's show up another notch when she joins them three songs into their set. Missing a third of their fraternal lineup, the Brothers' deftly-picked meanderings work just as well, Hey We Both Like Red, Lane's Break The Silence and Feathered Friend are all curious examples of why five years of playing together pays off, plus there is that phenomenal near-telepathic connection of family members singing together that sets this act apart. Lane's voice is rich and fits beautifully into their songs layering them in an affecting way.

The same which cannot be said for headliners Your New Best Friend who come across like a Oz rock band trapped in Manny's acoustic guitar showroom. Attempting to hype the crowd like they're playing a packed-out Corner show while plugging next week's gig mid-song three times might go down well at O Week parties, but seems laughably out of place tonight. Though songwriter Dima Shafro does have a sharp flamenco edge to his lead breaks (see...lead breaks!), the band only really show what they're capable of when they stop battling the sound system, hassling the venue for closing at 11 and chill enough to let their dynamics work. Still fresh faces around the traps they exude the confidence necessary to go the hard road to success, which it seems Shafro at least is chasing, but adding a drummer, some amps and some professionalism seems the best way to channel the energy. Songs like So Far Gone and Maybe deserve it.

No comments:

Post a Comment