DOPE LEMON @ The Astor Theatre


The Money War
The Astor Theatre
Friday, October 21, 2016

Angus Stone has released a couple solo albums, as well as several others as part of his star-making sibling duo, but his new project Dope Lemon sees him branch out and step up his sound into a grand psych rock experience, with a four-piece backing band. Following the release of their debut album, Honey Bones, earlier this year to generally high praise, it was time for the boys to take it on the road, and they swung by The Astor Friday night to show they’re more than capable of delivering live.

Supporting on the night and setting the mood were new young Perth band The Money War. A five-piece live act, based around the core duo of Dylan Ollivierre (Rainy Day Women) and Carmen Pepper (Warning Birds). They’ve got some great songs with an appropriately chilled, layered melodic sound, and they were a good start to the night as people filled the theatre.

There was a fair wait for the main act, while the stage and instruments were prepped, and a what looked like a stained-glass disco ball suspended about the stage, casting a fragmented rainbow of colours through the gathering smoke that filled the stage.

Eventually, the band made their way onto stage, and somewhat surprisingly kicked off with River Love – the opening track from Angus’ 2010 solo album, Broken Brights – led by Stone delicately strumming a mandolin.

As well as some of this solo material, a couple Angus & Julia Stone songs were included, Please You and Roses, much to the delight of the crowd.

But it was the Dope Lemon songs people were hanging out for, and they sound even better live than on record. Stone has assembled a crack troupe of musos as his backing band, including Rohin Brown (of The Walking Who) and Elliot Hammond (The Delta Riggs) on keys, and a rock solid rhythm section. And the songs have a real jammy kinda vibe, unsurprisingly as the album was made at Stone’s home studio in Byron Bay.

Along with Stone’s, affected, Dylanesque vocal delivery, the songs have something of an Arcade Fire, Kurt Vile, War On Drugs vibe with their jangley, melodic guitar riffs, and are also reminiscent of The Verve’s early work. It’s a pretty winning combination, executed well.

Opening track from Honey Bones, Marinade, got a big reaction and had everyone in the crowd grooving. The laid back guitar riff underpins Stone’s laconic drawl. There was a real chilled, but positive vibe in the room, with a lot of smiles on faces, as somewhere someone sparked one up and a pungent smelling smoke spilt across the crowd.

Stone then took a seat to play bass for the really mellow jam Fuck Things Up. Angus has a real sincerity about his music. He doesn’t talk much, but rather lets his songs say it all.

Big single Uptown Folks is a great song – a perfect summer arvo slow burner – no doubt likely to rank highly in the Hottest 100. It’s probably their most upbeat and rocking song, that really grows on you, and live it had a real exuberance and energy, as the euphoric guitar kicked in. The crowd were getting well into it.

They slowed things down for the finale with another Stone solo song, End Of The World that faded out gradually, leaving the crowd in a semi stunned silence as the band walked off stage – but then realisation kicked in, and the applause and screaming and calls for more began.

After a short break they did indeed return for one more, smiling and thanking the crowd. A sprawling, psychedelic number, with some really great drumming at the climax – sparse, but resonating loudly and building at just the right moments. On top of this the bass player was operating a Nord Pedal Keyboard, generating some seriously heavy rumbling bass.

Stone’s backing band are unsurprisingly all top notch, and really seem to be really enjoying themselves playing his songs, gelling as a unit, that will no doubt become tighter with touring. There’s huge potential here for Dope Lemon, with Angus spreading his wings and taking things to the next level, repping that laidback Aussie sound globally.


Photos by Alfred Gorman

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