Dyson Stringer Cloher, Naomi Keyte @ Grace Emily, Adelaide 17/11/2019

I have not seen Naomi Keyte play with a band in some time and am reminded how good she is tonight backed by Felicity Freeman on bass and Tom Kneebone on guitar bringing a country influence to the fore especially on new song Travelling Woman which perhaps would be better suited to be covered than performed by Naomi herself.

There was a soporific quality during the latter half of her set beginning with her now usual cover of Kid Sam’s Mirror Drawings. Before playing this song, Naomi made the suggestion to seek out a duet that Jen Cloher had performed with Kid Sam singer Kieran Ryan, Call If You Need Me released in 2012 during a relevant period of collaboration that included the first self-titled EP by Dyson Stringer Cloher (2013) and a song with Tim Rogers on vocals (2014). Her last song Somebody Else has a sudden ending that jolts me from my somnambulism in readiness for Dyson Stringer Cloher who are tonight playing their second show in Adelaide, an addendum and conclusion to the current tour.

When they do arrive on stage, it is in a complementing uniform of green (Mia Dyson), red (Liz Stringer) and blue (Jen Cloher), the jackets gradually discarded but Mia managing to keep hers on until nearly the end. There is an element of Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt’s Trio as they commence their performance with Jen Cloher’s Save Me From What I Want. This is followed by Young Girls, Jen describing the song as “a letter to yourself twenty five years later”. Liz takes the initial lead on her own song about not taking things Too Seriously (it’s in the title) which sounds very influenced by the Band with shared vocals. Album opener Falling Clouds is a diversion in that it retains a gritty demo-like quality and there is a sour thought in that this song is about two bands, Falling Joys and The Clouds and that one of the Clouds’ co-leads Jodi Phillis supported the band at every gig on this tour with the exception of the shows in Adelaide.

Jen tells us she is having fun and long before Liz informs us that “the rapport is real”, it is already obvious with Jen referring to her bandmates as “Dice” and “Stringbean” and Mia sharing that Jen enjoys relaxing at home in a giraffe onesy.

Nearly their whole album is played along with a couple of songs from their EP as well as solo material such as Mia’s Crazy Horse and Jen’s Fear Is Like A Forest that has been covered by Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile. As an aside, Jen notes that Liz had played banjo on Jen’s original version but Liz reveals that she doesn’t play banjo anymore because the handle broke off the case and she was too much of a “tight-arse” to replace it.

Mia mistakenly begins to introduce a song that is a co-write but this is put on hold when she realises her introduction relates to the song that is to come after. The actual next song is a touching performance of Liz Stringer’s Anyone. Mia then resumes her introduction before the extended Can’t Take It Back, nearly twice the length of most of the other songs played.

Liz describes The Other Side as “Another song from Dyson, Stringer, Cloher, the album”, Mia adding, “Not the musical” before Jen quips, “That’s soon”. As the song finishes, Jen quickly steps forward, ready before they launch into the muscular Believer which rouses portions of the near sold out audience. This second single, along with the other song garnering exposure for the band played earlier (Falling Clouds) is not really representative of the mood of the rest of the material performed tonight. In fact, the next song Be Alone seems almost a lyrical antithesis but also a laid back continuation at the same time.

The evening is brought to a close with their encore consisting of only one song Can I Borrow Your Eyes but it is performed in an intimate acapella mode, away from the microphones although the vocals that were picked up by the active microphones and played though the speakers added a slightly reverbed atmosphere to the proceedings.

If considering comparisons to the not too dissimilar Seeker Lover Keeper there is little besides the immediately obvious (three individual female artists coming together to form a group and having two releases a significant time apart) and where in that group one member may have a bigger profile then the others and is more likely to be the draw, in this case there was no uneven balance.

Live Review by Jason Leigh

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