LIVE REVIEW: Ben Kweller @ The Factory, Sydney 03/10/10

photo by Bryan Rindfuss

This was almost a joint headline tour in the context that Ben Kweller had had brought the Delta Spirit boys out from Texas and placed them in a slightly smaller font on the tour poster. Judging by the reaction that they received from the audience they have already developed a devoted following here in Australia.

Delta Spirit inhabit a world formed by The Strokes and Kings of Leon with their own added ingredients of raw southern and rousing northern soul. Bounding onstage they connected immediately with the crowd and proceeded to stagger and lurch from song to song. In Matthew Vasquez they have a frontman equally laconic, passionate, disciplined and carefree. People C’mon was magnificently ramshackle indie with its melodic stomp. Each member of the band provided a unique input to the songs with rolling basslines, clinical drums and barroom piano. It’s not often that a support act wins over an audience so successfully yet Delta Spirit did just that at one point they even had half the venue crouched on the floor at the behest of Vasquez.

Ben Kweller has been a frequent visitor to these shores both solo and with the successful Bens tour a few years back. As a result he has a devoted audience that need little encouragement to sing in passionate unison or offer up united ‘awww’s’ when he recounts the day he proposed to his girlfriend in Melbourne.

Kweller is undoubtedly one of those precocious talents who can effortlessly swing from garage rock to Harry Nilsson pop (Sawdust Man) to country (Fight). Over two hours he did all that and more, all the while with his dopey Texas grin and positive vibe. Kweller played with only a drummer and bassist and it was impressive the way they could shift between style and tempo without missing a beat. A mid-set solo spot allowed Kweller to dig deeper into the love for his wife with Lizzie and Thirteen. With the band returning he finished on a rollicking high with the power pop riffs of This Is War, The Rules and the Weezer-esque Wasted and Ready.

Kweller showed he is a truly masterful songwriter, musician and performer with a genuinely engaging personality – a fairly rare mix these days.

Chris Familton

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