A sea of beards, button-up shirts and wide brim hats filled the Civic Theatre for Angus & Julia Stone on Wednesday night, the theatre’s graceful ambience perfectly complementing the act’s ethereal vibe.
As performers, the siblings have a natural congruence and have been blessed with some wonderful music genes. They don’t need any bells and whistles to dress up what they so naturally possess, but is this enough?
A recent review by the Sydney Morning Herald ever so cleverly dubbed Angus & Julia Stone’s latest album as “putting the numb into number one”. To be honest, I don’t completely disagree with this sentiment. I found their live performance similarly fell into moments of lull, with the multiple instrument changes and well-choreographed lighting becoming the catalyst for keeping my attention.
I always thought Angus would be the ‘leading man’ of the two, but he unexpectedly took the back seat, almost nonchalantly blending into the backing band (perhaps a little sedated by some pre-show herbal refreshments).
On the other hand, Julia was mesmerizing. She stole the show, sashaying across the stage, moving lithely to the rhythm. She also sang lead vocals for majority of the set list, her unique voice resounding through theatre, powerful and fragile at the same time.
I really can’t fault Julia’s performance, but Angus just didn’t seem present, which left something to be desired.
They offered up a surprising set list, littered with covers including an amusing folked-up version of the Grease classic ‘You’re The One That I Want’.
Even more surprising was the somewhat anti-climatic song choice of ‘Santa Monica Dream’ for their finale. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely little tune, but it doesn’t take you to that big crescendo finish.
At times the audience was eerily quiet, which in a setting like the Civic Theatre can make more of an impact than a room full of cheers. There were only a few very ‘PG’ hollers from the crowd, “You’re the best!” “You guys are awesome!” In a way, it kind of felt like the captions from a sticker you’d get on your homework in primary school… Definitely not rock and/or roll. But, acceptable, I suppose, for a chilled-out sleepy folk gig.
All in all it was a pleasant performance which could be appreciated on the base level of two talented musicians with voices that are easy on the ears. Non-offensive, pared-back, tame.