LIVE REVIEW: Gary Clark Jr. @ Annandale Hotel, Sydney (28/09/12)

by Chris Familton

Doc Holliday Takes the Shotgun had the opening honours and proceeded to rip up the memo that says the support band has to battle shitty sound, a disinterested sparse crowd and not upstage the main act. The singer and bassist spent the set lurching madly around the stage and dancefloor looking vaguely menacing between cheesy grins. Their sound sat somewhere between the early deconstructed blues of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The Gun Club and straight up rock and cowpunk and they play it well. All the components were there in terms of musicality and attitude and they looked like they were having a barrel of fun.

Mildura’s Jackson Firebird have been circling the blues and rock scenes for a few years now and as you’d expect they’re a well oiled machine, though not at the expense of a playful live show. The duo kicked out their boogie jams with a very short set, the highlight of which was drummer Dale Hudak pounding out primitive beats on his bottle bin while Brendan Harvey carved hip shaking riffs from his guitar. The crowd quite rightfully went nuts for them, calling for an encore that never came.

Gary Clark Jr. looked every inch the star even before he played a note, sauntering onstage with a coy smile, bling necklace and wide brimmed hat. Clark and his understated band eased into the set, building the tension and mood before Clark unleashed the first of his many solos of the night. What quickly became apparent is the range that he covers in his playing. From straight up rock n roll to psychedelic electric blues and memphis soul the guy can do it all – and seemingly with ease. Between songs there was little banter yet when he closed his eyes, dropped his shoulder and let his fingers do the talking the results were sublime. When he dropped the tempo for the magical Please Come Home, complete with audience screams and yelps, he showed he can also coax tender and fragile tones from his instrument. The biggest cheer came with the tough groove of single Bright Lights late in the set before an encore that included a wonderful acoustic solo spot. Clark showed he is the real deal and an exceptional guitarist with a voice that contrasts and complements his playing perfectly. This was a show that justified the hype.

this review was first published in Drum Media

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