LIVE REVIEW: Lee Ranaldo @ OAF, Sydney (20/10/12)

photo by Chris Familton

by Chris Familton

Melbourne’s Pony Face opened the evening and proved to be just as enigmatic and hard to pin down as they sound on record. The trio operate in the realm of dark atmospheric rock and showed they have a great handle on space and dynamics with songs that worked up often gentle and sometimes frantic moods. Their bassist was fascinating to watch as he ducked and bobbed with mouth agape and eyes half drawn and their set showed a real balance to it with each member indispensable to the music they were playing. Their closing track, Disco Cops was a fantastic heavy groove that recalled the short-lived Mad Season from the 90s.

Lee Ranaldo surprised a few people with the accessibility of his recent solo record, such was the standard song form and lack of experimentalism. Taking those songs into the live format and including Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley suggested that it might end up sounding like a Sonic Youth show sans the noise and deconstructed noise aspects. To an extent that was true but Ranaldo exceeded expectations by throwing in a few covers (Talking Heads’ Thank You For Sending Me An Angel and a brilliant rendition of Neil Young’s Revolution Blues) and a couple of older SY tracks including Karenology. With Shelley in fine form the quartet added a rough hewn edge to the studio renditions of Ranaldo’s songs and it was the tension that came from their interplay that made it such a great set. Pretty much all of Between The Times & The Tides was played with Xtina As I Knew Her, the dynamic variations of Fire Island (Phases) and the dreamy drift of the rarely played Stranded particular highlights. The show strengthened the case for Ranaldo as not just a guitarist but also a fine songwriter.

this review was first published in Drum Media

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