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Heathcote Blue

Heathcote BlueDavid Craft/Jane Harris

Paper Mountain

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Those Bacchanalian spirits that braved the wind, rain and the questionable characters that trundle through Northbridge’s William Street last Thursday, to take the steep staircase up to an unassuming little creative space by the name of Paper Mountain, found themselves through the looking glass, into a world of chaotic art and soothing, euphonious folk. It was here that Seams frontman and honorary mad hatter for the evening, Lyndon Blue, held the launch for his self-titled debut EP under the moniker Heathcote Blue.

As punters took their seats amongst the cushions and rugs splayed across the floor – a half primary school storytime, half oriental opium den affair – roots rocker, David Craft, took to the stage for a solo acoustic set. Craft’s songwriting was characterised by reduced, chordic guitar work providing a solid rhythmic backing for his aching bass vocals and narrative lyricism. He did occasionally suffer pitching problems, but his subdued inflections and raw tonality made songs such as Smokey Lungs And Dirty Puns come alive. The set flowed with dynamic, emotive shifts, from driving roots original, Human Stain, to the Sam Cooke R ‘n’ B classic, A Change is Gonna Come, backed by the emotionally powerful, though occasionally wavering vocals of Maddy Blue and Andrew Williams.

Continuing this long dark tea-time of the soul was Jane Harris. The slip of a folkstress settled herself amongst the mike stands and coloured lights arrayed at one end of the room, and began to play. Her harp-like guitar work bobbed beneath a stark, vulnerable vocal projection that cut knife-like through the silent intimacy of Paper Mountain’s assembled crowd. While each of Harris’s doleful tunes were powerful in their own right, together the set suffered from a slight lack of stylistic diversity. However, closing song, Into The Badlands, proved to be a great finisher, with a nice, floating vocal melody.

In the brief lull between acts, audience members were given the opportunity to wander through the sedimentary composition of the Five Forts art installation, before the Blue siblings took to the stage. Beginning the set with the listless, arpeggiated Blackwood Morning, Lyndon Blue demonstrated a striking ability to write emotionally connected, melodically engaging songs. Moving onto the airier, more folky Days Like These, featuring Maddie Blue providing violin and mellifluous harmonies. Juxtaposing this with the dark and mournful The Chimney Sweeper – based on the William Blake poem of the same name – the duo then moved on to a rendition of Simon and Garfunkle’s America, in honour of their itinerant aspiration for an upcoming trip to the US.

Ultimately, Heathcote Blue’s set was characterised by a relaxed attitude to the songwriting and performance that put audience members at ease. There was a loose, friendly vibe to the entire evening and a close-knit sense of camaraderie between the acts and the audience. The gig did tread the line of being scattered and disorganised, but managed to maintain its quirky charm. Going out into the night, folk fans would remember fondly their intimate moments discovering the bass recorder, the gentle, low rumble of house music blasted through a streetside car stereo, but perhaps most importantly, they would take the music of some of Perth’s premiere folk artists with them.

SHAUN COWE

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