After spending the best part of six months living from our car in remote pockets of the vast Australian continent we had finally settled back into the vibrancy of city life and wasted little time getting back into the live music scene.
Having been recommended Melbourne singer-songwriter Oh Mercy by friends, we snapped up tickets to his (lead singer Alex Gow) co-headline show with compatriot Dan Kelly on their ‘Australian Dreamers Tour’.
Oh Mercy has achieved considerable level of critical acclaim in Australia and even scooped up the ARIA award for best adult contemporary album for 2015’s ‘When We Talk About Love’. And having had a good listen through his discography, I had a good feeling of what to expect.
Stylistically, Gow emulates himself on the American pedigree of folk, singer-songwriters. His name a direct reference to Bob Dylan’s 1989 album. His focus is on writing delicate, heartfelt and well crafted songs which often deal with the tumultuous nature of love.
I had listened a lot less to Dan Kelly. A quick flick through his latest album ‘Leisure Panic’ revealed an artist much less concerned with the delicate complexities of the human condition and with a much more definite penchant for witticisms and absurdist narratives.
At first thought probably not the most compatible musicians but despite the odds the co-headline show worked incredibly well. It was one of the most unique spectacles I’ve ever seen live. It often teetered on the edge of disaster but just as it threatened to fall by the wayside it was reeled back in to view by moments of genius. Two of the most talented and original songwriters in Australia bouncing off disparate elements of one another. A kind of live metaphoric ying and yang which created something whole.
There were two moments in particular that resonated. After an utterly absurd ten minutes at the hands of Dan Kelly and his tales of apocalypse and underwater survival with Bindi Irwin (the daughter of Australian legend Steve Irwin), Alex Gow stunned everyone into silence with a flawless version of love ballad ‘Lady Eucalyptus’.
The second came from Dan Kelly, who despite his relentless barrage of absurd comedy, was one of the most talented guitar players I’ve ever seen live. In a moment of equal parts genius and satire , Kelly played a Hendrix-esque, wah pedal driven rendition of ‘Advance Australia Fair’ (the Aussie national anthem) and absolutely killed it.
Both artists are highly recommended on their own merits but the way they experimented with live elements of the show was really impressive. A true showcase of artistic ingenuity and of Australian spirit. Haphazard, self-deprecating but ultimately capable of incredible moments of clarity.
Stay Please Stay – Oh Mercy (Great Barrier Grief)
Lady Eucalyptus – Oh Mercy (When We Talk About Love)
Dan Kelly’s Dream – Dan Kelly (Dan Kelly’s Dream)
Hydra Ferry – Dan Kelly (Leisure Panic!)