Angus and Julia Stone @ Red Hill Auditorium, Perth (02/04/11)
Nestled in the rolling hills of Perth, off Toodyay road, is the Red Hill Auditorium.
This newly built and idyllic venue was the prime location for Angus and Julia Stone to play their only Perth show before the overseas leg of their tour. Alongside the dynamic duo was Perth favourite Felicity Groom and her band, as well as light-hearted Brighton born acoustic soloist Passenger.
Built in the midst of bushland, the structure has formed a symbiosis with the surrounding environment. The stars adorning the night sky were the primary source of light for the concert goers on the steps of the atrium, with the exception of the lights deployed on stage that shot out, illuminating the crowd during songs. This twilight scene was aggrandised by the picturesque view of the city of Perth from the hills. As Angus Stone himself said: “Can you guys see the city out there? It kind of looks like the embers of a dying fire, it’s cool.”
Felicity Groom initiated the night’s festivities. Dressed in a long, pink dress, she was infinitely more sensibly clad than at her performance at the Japan fund-raiser on Friday night, where she chose to don the attire of a Japanese co-ed. Making ambiguous promises for future releases: “Maybe June I’ll have a new album out”, she swayed about the stage to tracks from her latest release Finders and Keepers. Unfortunately due to backups on Toodyay road, Groom had finished her set before many people had even arrived.
After some down time Passenger a.k.a. Mike Rosenberg walked on-stage with an acoustic guitar and a charming English accent. Starting with a song called The Last Unicorn Rosenberg set the tone of touching and solemn love songs that continued throughout the set. That’s not to say there weren’t divine moments of joviality, including his anti-love song, a dry-witted recant of a jilted love affair that left him alone and his girlfriend in the arms of a Barcelonian with a huge… dictionary. This effervescence continued with his ode to Patrick the crowd heckler, during his cover of Simon and Garfunkle’s Sound of Silence. Not bad considering just two months ago he was playing to a crowd of thirteen people in Toowoomba.
The crowd lapped up these side acts with the same unrestrained fervour that has become the trademark of Perth crowds and the reason many bands continue to visit the most isolated city on Earth. However this was all small-change for the coming attraction.
As they impatiently waited for the main event, the titillation in the crowd was palpable. Then, as the lights dimmed, the crowd burst into an uproar. The long-awaited duo walked on-stage backed by a trio of very talented musicians. Starting with a solemn version of All of Me the sibling act had the audience enraptured from the first syllable.
The introversion and detached demeanour of Angus contrasted with the blissful and alluring figure of Julia, prancing about and engaging the audience. Next up was Black Crow, continuing the theme of older crowd favourites. Julia then decided to introduce a never-before-performed new song, which moved away from her traditional paradigm of writing love songs. I Wanna Live Here was a song about living in the moment with music, a mood that encapsulated the audience.
The industry-standard three-song encore left the crowd baying for more. A refusal by a significantly inebriated Angus to play Mango Tree disappointed fans, however Julia made amends by concluding the night with another crowd favourite Wasted.
With that the concert goers were left to fend for themselves, all queuing up to return to the shuttle bus services or their cars respectively. The only downside to the night was the lines. Lines in the traffic, lines to enter, lines for the toilet, lines to get a ticket to get into another line to get a beverage so you have something to drink while you wait in line for some food.
While this is the norm for almost any well-attended concert the traffic back up on Toodyay road to and from the concert could have used a reassessing. Maybe next time.