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GUM & RACHAEL DEASE @ Fremantle Arts Centre gets 7/10


GUM & Rachael Dease @ Fremantle Arts Centre

Thursday, August 27, 2020

7/10

Fremantle Arts Centre played host Thursday to a lowkey and very charming night of local entertainment on Thursday, courtesy of Rachael Dease and GUM (AKA Tame Impala / POND buddy Jay Watson).

In a clever approach to complying with Phase 4 restrictions, the audience was split into two groups which swapped turns seeing the two acts. My group saw Rachael Dease first, followed by GUM. Both acts performed to a seated crowd in separate rooms in the gallery, and tailored their performances accordingly with paired-back, emotional sets.

Rachael Dease

Rachael Dease is an acclaimed WA artist whose work encompasses her own theatre pieces and installations as well as film and theatre scoring. Dease opened the show joking about setting low expectations, and then blew it out of the park. She played a cycle of ballads on piano, blending minimalist classical and folk to form heartfelt lullabies. The story behind them bore this out, as Dease explained they were composed while she had a young child and had to deal with isolation in COVID. Her last tune is from her show House, which she intends to present next year. Dease is a beautiful talent and her piano ballads were both haunting and captivating.

After an intermission the audience was treated to GUM’s set. Fitting the intimate surrounds, GUM performed as a two-piece with Jay Watson fronting on guitar (with tape delay on hand), and fellow POND member James Ireland on keyboard. It was a loose and relaxed gig focussing on GUM’s more quiet and introspective material, largely taken from this year’s Out of this World LP. At times the approach to the material may have even been too loose, with Watson joking that he’d downed a few wines between sets. Indeed he did fluff a guitar solo midway through the night and had to quickly start over, and there were a few guitar tuning sessions that went too long, but it was all in good spirit, and befitting of such a personal set.

Gum

The songs came off very well, with the two-piece arrangement suiting the song selection perfectly. Ireland’s keyboard favoured a tinkling, lullaby-esque tone, and his descending riffing and interplay with Watson on Out in the World was a standout. The latest album was also covered with tracks Down the Dream, Many Tears to Cry, and Don’t Let It Go Out. The latter was particularly effective, with some great vocals from Watson as he shifted from whisper to falsetto.

The set also featured a pair of interesting covers, one by R. Stevie Moore (the “godfather of home recording” responsible for over 400 albums – Watson was gracious enough to declare a lot of his output worthy). Fan favourites Rehearsed in a Dream and Couldn’t See Past My Ego from 2018’s stellar The Underdog were also carried off stylishly. The only drawback aside from the short set times was the consistent tone of tracks performed. Although it may not have worked, it would have been interesting to hear a paired-back version of more energetic GUM tracks such as Fear or recent banger Airwalkin’.

This was a charming evening, a bit short in the tooth perhaps but an excellent showcase for two of WA’s finest. Perhaps host and veteran muso Todd Pickett summed it up best in closing the night, reminding us all that we should be thankful as West Australians to be able to host and attend events of this quality in such uncertain times.

MATIJA ZIVKOVIC

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