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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.

katpig

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

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On the brink of dusk we felt as though we were in a country town once we stepped inside the Oakleigh RSL last friday. Things were still being set up so the three of us grabbed a table near the front and while munching on some mexican buffet a lady with a lighter came round to light our candle. How romantic ;) So after waiting too long to go to the bathroom just chatting in anticipation for the band at our table complete with checked table cloth, I went to the ladies room just moments before the warm-up act started. In between those plaster walls echoing banjo chords graced my ears. The image and music of Darren Hanlon rose to mind. It was the most exciting sound I had heard in a long while. The dull twang and vibration of sound embraced me with a nostalgia and familiarity I never wanted to let go of. I walked out and the one man band had finished tuning his banjo and was into full song. The delicate vocals matched the melody so well and his lyrics personal and touching. I was captivated by the atmosphere, the softly twirling disco ball and passion in his voice. I had to wait after the entire show to find out his name was Isaac de Heer. Although it had been said twice both times were too much of a mumble for me to comprehend. There was a small intermission. Then The Little Stevies were announced on stage and launched straight into my favourite of their songs, the very up-beat, Sunshower. Bouncy and light it was a great start to the set. With a mixture of new and older songs many of them were new to me. The three harmonious voices glide perfectly through almost every song. There was talk of there trip to Los Angeles, amusing anecdotes and a collective happy birthday chorus for Bethany who turned 23 that night and also Robin’s mum who was in the audience. Their lyrics appear as very raw that left me feeling motivated and energetic. It’s nice to hear unpretentious words and stories for a change. After the show I bought myself a CD from the lead singer Bill (yes it is actually a girl) and then took photos of my friend with the two guys from the band Robin and Josh. Although I had some trouble firstly with the focusing, then the flash because no one could keep their eyes open. :) Meanwhile my other friend had been bothered the whole time they were playing by the fact that she recognised Beth from somewhere. As it turned out they both went to the same high school. What a small world and overall a fun night. This was my celebration for finishing my third and possibly last year of university and I have to say it really felt great!

katpig

I could not resist writing about this record, it is the opposite of disapointment. It is everything i could have expected from one of my favourite aussie singer songwriters and more. Rousing in me feelings that are so familiar and comforting, folky melodies letting you know everything will be alright :) He is spot on with all kinds of personal situations and emotions, one that we’ve all felt, gently yet certainly diving outside the square and thinking of all the small, insignificant details of life that can often grow into important aspects of our life. There is a restlessness that roams in these lyrics, a mind full of questions that can’t or don’t need to be answered. 

I have done this drawing out of  inspiration from this album:

“So I gave away my clothes to charity,

And turned off my TV for clarity,

But some days I still envy those,

Walking around wearing my clothes,

So I’ll plant a tree I’ll never see grow,

Put a seed in the ground where no one will know,

Gonna make my plan when the morning breaks,

But I just don’t know how long it will take…” -Folk Insomnia

  katpig