Last night I had the most fabulous experience of seeing Darren Hanlon perform his annual solo show at the Northcote Social Club. After recovering my keyboard from Numberlock which my blissfully unaware kitten stepped on while running rampage on my laptop, I have now decided to write about it.

So after perhaps 4 or 5 years of somewhat secret adoration of Darren and his music I made the effort to go and see him live. It was raining outside but with my partner kindly driving us to the venue nothing could get in the way of this magical event. We checked out the club (being utterly confused to where the music was going to be happening) before heading out to grab some food. With both our wrists stamped with a zebra we stepped out into the downpour and risked the smudging of our stamps for some Mexican burritos.

We sat down not realizing firsthand the time was 8 30, 30 minutes before Darren was to hit the stage. However we took the chance and ordered a beer each (corona of course) and a main. After buying tickets 2 weeks early online, you bet we wanted to get the best out of our purchase and more so not wanting to miss a minute of the show. So you can imagine the anticipation we were dealing with, and every minute that passes feels like 10 minutes. Trying not to even think about worrying about missing some of the show I made idle conversation to distract myself. The food arrived a bit later than 5 to 9 and boy did we smash it. To other customers it must have looked as though we hadn’t eaten for days or two maniacs not knowing how to control themselves. Trying to skull my drink but failing I settled for making quick winded gulps and sips. As I shoved mouthfuls of super hot vegetarian burrito into my gob time was ticking by but for a moment or two I didn’t care because it was so delicious.

We then rushed out the door, bellies full and ran back up the street all the way to the club (getting some strange looks too mind you). Clambering into the function room we joyfully congratulated each other because Darren had not started playing yet. Yes we made it we beat the system. Within moments the crowd cheered as he walked on stage.

He picked up what I think was a Gibson (but I don’t want to make a fool of myself and pretend like I know about stuff like that) and went straight into ‘Electric Skeleton’. Good choice for first song I thought. Then there was a greeting followed by either ‘The Unmade Bed’ or ‘Buy Me Presents’, I can’t remember. There seemed to be a lot of silence in the crowd and hardly any singalongs except for radical fans like me, which was disappointing. He told tales of overseas ventures and the history of his new favourite shirt he was wearing and explained the mystery of its lonely one cuff.

As a very natural entertainer he made us all laugh and smile through out the night but that could also be because he just seems like a very like-able person.  His lyrics are clever and witty, he use ordinary events of life to evoke humour but also a sensitivity in his perceptions of reality. The acoustics were not very good sadly but yet his voice soared over the crowd and the strums of the guitar resonated steadily within the body of each person.

Two guests appeared separately through the show (however I cannot remember their names properly). A highlight was a somewhat mock barbershop quartet duet rendition of ‘Jingle Bells’ which flowed into ‘Early Days’. Some favourites from the new album were ‘All these things’ which the crowd sang the absent part of the duet and also ‘Folk Insomnia’. Old favourites were ‘Elbows’ and he even forgot some of the lyrics to his own songs like ‘Last night of not knowing you’ and possibly ‘Couch Surfing’.

And so the night ended with 2 encores and a ‘Back to the Future’-esque version of Johnny be Good. A delightful event and I’m very happy to support such talented Aussie musicians. But my favourite part of going to a gig is that moment when the songs feel neverending and you are caught up in the ambiance and mesmerising spotlights, like you never want the night to end and it feels as though it never will – and for now you wouldn’t mind that at all.


P.S. If you haven’t heard his music before check out his website: , his tour diary is a good yarn too ;)