Angus & Julia Stone, Ruel @ Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide 28/9/2017
Thursday night in Adelaide and we are presented with their third sold-out show in as many years, which, for concert starved Adelaide is an excellent thing.
First up tonight was Ruel, a young Sydney singer in the vein of Hozier or Jarryd James. And when I say young I mean young, as he is only 14 years old. This was his first time in Adelaide and hopefully not his last as Ruel has a most excellent soul voice and the crowd was very receptive to him. The band assembled for him was tight and this was evident from the first song which was a cover of Major Lazer/Ellie Goulding’s, Powerful. Ruel performed both songs available on Spotify, Don’t Tell Me and Golden Years as well as including another cover of Jack Garratt’s Weathered that he first performed on Triple J’s like a version with his mentor M-Phazes. Ruel is already getting airplay on Triple J and taking tonight’s performance into account, one would expect great things in his future.
Angus and Julia Stone arrived on stage soon after and gave us nearly two hours of beautiful sibling harmonies. They started with Baudelaire from the new excellent album Snow, and over the course of the night played 10 out of the 12 songs from it. For an album that had only been released two weeks prior, there seemed to be great recognition from the attentive crowd. If an album is good, I am all for bands playing the majority of it in a live show as this creates a different experience each time you see them.
There was still room for old songs and the revamped Private Lawns from their first EP was a welcome inclusion, and featured a banjo solo and Julia alternating between vocals and trumpet. It still sounded as fresh as when they played it at Jive the first time they performed in Adelaide in 2007. A mellowed out version of Big Jet Plane got an airing as did For You, (which can be heard at most of their concerts), both from the Down the Way album. Julia told us that she had written For You for a boyfriend she was splitting from in hopes that it would reignite their relationship. The attempt was lost on him and in reply, he sent Julia a copy of his latest death metal song entitled Going To Hell. Needless to say, their relationship was not reignited.
Behind them was a massive totem pole with an eagle on top with bright red eyes, and behind that was a video screen showing surreal images of the sky, the sea and lava. The lighting was subdued for most of the night but at various times it shone brightly on Julia when she sang passionately on many songs. Angus, on the other hand, was hardly ever in the light, but that suited his deeper vocals.
We were also treated to Uptown Folks which is a song off Angus Stone’s off shoot project Dope Lemon which for a brief moment turned the concert into a more traditional rock concert.
Angus and Julia have assembled a very tight band and in my opinion, they were faultless, and together they make the already great songs on Snow even better. A highlight from the album called Nothing Else really showcased their vocal harmonies and had a wonderful catchy guitar riff. Angus played a cigar-box (a guitar made out of a cigar box), and Julia’s vocal flitted between a deep, mature sound, then to a sweet, almost child-like sounding voice. She also played the trumpet showing off her musical talents beyond her vocals.
The last song of the set was the title track from the Snow album and there was pseudo snow falling on stage which effected a magical scene to close out the set. The song Snow was released prior to the album release, and it got the greatest reception of the new songs. No line was sung more loudly by the audience than the Angus line “I can get fucked up on absolutely anything”, which I suppose says something about the audience. This is also a song that showcases their voices as they alternate the lyrics, and the male/female vocal lines compliment each other beautifully.
One of the songs in the encore was Harvest Moon delivering to the audience a wonderful Neil Young cover but sadly was barely recognised by the crowd. Angus and Julia must really love Neil Young as they performed another cover of his when they played at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre in 2015. The concert ended with Soldier from their first album and this really highlights Julia’s quirky, yet powerful voice and for this song we had Angus on trumpet.
I look forward to seeing them again in Adelaide soon and hope they tour this album again. I think the time is ripe for them to reappear at Womadelaide again next year where they have not played since 2011.
Review by Richard Depizzol