Blake Scott may be the best frontman in Australia today.
Big call? Watch and listen to him cover I’m Stranded on Rockwiz; see the performance he inspires from the house band, but also notice how he drags the sounds and the emotions out of himself. If this was 1977, or 1987, spandex aside, he’d be a huge star – here and overseas. In 2017, when top level musicians are forced to work second and third jobs to survive, the music-loving punter can catch a show like this, in a ‘cosy’ venue, for less than a couple of drinks at the venue’s (extortionate) bar. Mental.
Blake is the lead singer, guitarist and main songwriter in Peep Tempel. Their fantastic third album, Joy, was released in 2016. If you haven’t stood in a crowd and sung to Carol about the inadvisability of her relationship with Trevor, you should have a hard look at yourself.
Blake is a natural in their brilliant down-home videos. This ability to occupy a character and hold the eye informs tonight’s show, and under a solo spotlight he burns. His voice is stunning, rolling each vowel and consonant, savouring it like his favourite beer.
His between-song character is self-deprecating larrikin/geezer, looping short stories and vignettes, asides and exposition with balanced skill and charm, and no little pathos. If this was a spoken word gig it would still be sold out, but as a musician these interludes serve only to punctuate his wonderful songs.
Blake employs several voices, each one an instrument. His timbre is somewhere close to Kavyern Temperley (Eskimo Joe) or David Gray, a supple cockney-Aussie rasp, with fruity relish. It delivers reams of poetry and invective, like a sermon, weaving in and out of the acoustic guitar like smoke.
‘Walter Matthau’ is stunning. Highly original, a series of time changes and moods strung together seemingly without effort. Bare fingers fly on strings, words swirl like sandstorms on the Nullarbor. Apparently it’s some ideas he has had for a while sort-of thrown together. It needs to be released.
The final song has something of Springsteen’s ‘I’m On Fire’ about it, and a hush descends as it’s performed. “Most of the stories I tell aren’t true,” he says. Sorry Blake, but we beg to differ.