A fairytale of Northcote. For the third year in succession, these wonderful musicians played a pre-Christmas mini-residency at the venerable Social.
With various family members and friends scattered in the crowd, the vibe was immediately intimate. A raffle for the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre and a smattering of tinsel and Christmas trees on the cosy stage lent both warmth and humour.
This was a gig arranged along the lines of the Nine Inch Nails/Queens of the Stone Age ‘coin toss’ tour; kicking off with separate Jordie and Liz segments. Unlike the Nails/Queens gigs, they would return for a combined set. It was here that we were to be treated, with the addition of the talented, thoughtfully understated Clare Reynolds, to some three-way vocal harmonies reminiscent of Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac.
There is a precious moment at the beginning of any gig wherein the audience attunes to the first sounds of the players. Tonight, from the opening seconds of Devil and My Daughter, the effect of Liz and Jordie’s enmeshed acoustic and electric guitars, drenched in reverb, delay and tremolo was stunning. One could almost hear a collective intake of breath.
Liz took the lead on that first song. Her voice has a smoky suppleness to it, a timbre that brings to mind Kirsty MacColl. Tonight her pitch and control were perfect. Dancing over the swampy, evocative guitars the effect was to stun the attentive crowd into silence.
Jordie Lane is an old-school talent. He made passing mention of Bob Dylan, and the early-Bob fingerstyle acoustic with harmonica comparisons are obvious. His rich voice and heartfelt singing, though, is more Jackson C. Frank, and his work on a battered Telecaster invoked Ry Cooder. Deep compliments.
His recent album, Glassellland, is fantastic. Tonight we were treated to a couple of its best songs. The rendition of perhaps the best song of all, Black Diamond, was sublime. Its restful, laconic tempo was respected and it was possible to hear three talented musicians really leaning into the harmonies; listening, shifting cadence in a way that only occurs with a deep appreciation of each other, with the song itself. Liz, Clare and Jordie each have beautiful voices, but in harmony it was possible to appreciate an even greater sum of parts.
The intimate feel of the gig only built as the night went on. Even song-by-song guitar changes, complicated further by tuning and capo changes, failed to halt the momentum. Still, there was some truth in the humour of Jordie’s call for a guitar tech crowd-fund campaign.
Lastly, we were treated to one final feel-good Christmas gift: a 19 member choir of shy, thrilled singers called ‘One More Chorus’ a Brunswick Community Choir Led by The Maes (Maggie and Elsie Rigby) join Jordie, Liz and Clare onstage. Their modest volume in the mix was a final nod to the delicacy and sensitivity of the gig; a performance where whispers, not shouts, ran the game.