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ANGUS & JULIA STONE @ Fremantle Arts Centre gets 8/10

ANGUS & JULIA STONE @ Fremantle Arts Centre
w/ Angie McMahon
Sunday, May 27, 2018

8/10

It was a cold, wet and stormy weekend in Perth, with the beautiful outdoor space at the Fremantle Arts Centre not the ideal location for two sold out shows by Australia’s musical sibling darlings. But the gods smiled upon us and the rain eased up on the Sunday night (and mostly on the Saturday) to make for a surprisingly pleasant atmosphere and wonderfully intimate performance – much to the chagrin of those precious, Perth folks who freaked out after a couple stormy nights and tried to sell their tickets online, believing the gig would be a wash out.

Angus & Julia Stone

Angus & Julia Stone have been peddling their trademark brand of chilled folky, indie pop around the world, to bigger and bigger audiences since they launched themselves into the public consciousness over 10 years ago. And they seem to have reached a point in their career where they are writing and playing together better than ever, and really enjoying themselves.

After their first few EPs and a couple albums, they parted ways in 2011 to work on solo projects, becoming a bit restless and aware of the limitations of a duo, before they were brought back together again by legendary US producer Rick Rubin, who took a liking to them and encouraged them to write music together for the first time and make a third, self-titled album. Previously their songs were more one or the others, and this rediscovered bond and connection as brother and sister has seen them produce some of their best work yet.

Angus & Julia Stone

Last year’s Snow is the first time they’ve written an entire album together and it’s arguably their finest to date. They seem proud of it too, and played most of it, alongside a great selection from across their large back catalogue. They’re a polished live act and it sounded great on the big stage, with perfectly mixed, crystal clear sound and beautiful visuals.

Melbourne singer-songwriter Angie McMahon started the night with her band, impressing and warming up the early crowd, many of whom huddled on picnic rugs on the main lawn, before the numbers swelled and surged forward as Angus & Julia Stone made their way onto the stage. They started delicately with the gentle acoustic strum of I Am Yours from 2010’s Down The Way with Angus’ subtle vocals, rising to a powerful growl as the band kicked in behind him and he stated his intent, “You are mine, I am yours, let’s not fuck around.”

With that, they had conjured the mood and captivated the crowd, capitalising on it by following it up with the gorgeous Snow, the lead single and opening track on the album of the same name. The song is an instant classic in their catalogue and sums up everything great about them, with their duelling vocals, a tight groove and Julia’s sweet la-la-la’s.

Angus & Julia Stone

While perhaps victims somewhat of Australia’s tall poppy syndrome after their enduring success, there’s a reason why they’ve done so well around the globe. Their music has a universal, eminently likeable quality – and as people they have a certain realness and authenticity to them, as they tell tales about the inspirations behind various songs. Julia does most of the talking and Angus still sounds awkwardly humble like a talented footballer forced to explain himself on camera.

Another new track Oakwood sounded great with the heavy full rhythm section – their talented backing band really shone all night, creating a solid base and texture for the siblings to work their magic over.

Julia introduced the next song Private Lawns from their first EP Chocolate & Cigarettes, which she said they recorded in their dad’s living room back in Sydney. The song has a real swinging gypsy rock vibe, like some of their early stuff, including a little banjo interlude, before Julia broke out the trumpet.

Angus & Julia Stone

Angus played a solo track of his next, River Love, which he explained was about a road trip in California, and featured some nifty mandolin playing. Another beautiful love song Nothing Else is a very subtle track on record, and was visually accompanied by a colourful, psychedelic wolf on the big screen behind them, but they rocked out the ending live, the song taking off as the whole band came in.

With the ambient backdrop of a giant moon on big screen behind them they played Grizzly Bear, before Julia introduced Santa Monica Dream, as a beautiful, but sad song recorded near Battery Park, New York, about when you love someone, but you know it’s not meant to be. She dedicated it to their Grandfather who passed away last year, and the performance was touchingly accompanied by footage of their grandparents, young and in love.

Angus & Julia Stone

Cellar Door was fittingly accompanied with a visual backdrop of a lightning storm, before Angus sat down for another new album highlight, Who Do You Think You Are, a rocking and rolling number in the vein of classic Springsteen, complete with a dancing girls backdrop.

Their most overplayed track Big Jet Plane saw the phone torches light up and the night was given a bit of introspective twist with an introduction from Angus explaining how it was about a girl he fell in love with while driving out to the Woodford Folk Festival in Queensland 10 years ago. As it was in the days before the techno-adverse Angus had a phone, he didn’t get her details and flew away and never saw her again. If he keeps telling this story, she’ll no doubt track him down.

After Julia graciously introduced each band member, including a heartfelt tribute to her brother, they fittingly finished the set on the wonderful Chateau, the big single from the new album that scored the number three position in Triple J’s Hottest 100.

They soon returned for a brief two song encore of the rocking Uptown Folks – a great tune from Angus’ side project Dope Lemon – before finishing the night with the beautiful acoustic love ballad Wherever You Are featuring some dreamy vocals from the pair, first Julia, then Angus. Despite the weather, everyone left feeling warm and sunny.

ALFRED GORMAN

Photos by Linda Dunjey

 

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