Lanie Lane @ The Corner, Melbourne (27/05/2012)

It’s a pretty fair effort to sell out three nights in a row at the Corner, especially when two of those nights are Sunday and Monday. So hats off to the girl of the hour, Lanie Lane. A couple of dates added to the other side of the run could have easily equalled Matt Corby’s efforts of late, but Lane would have been chuffed with just a single show – she has to be one of most genuinely appreciative acts going around. Off the back of a solid summer of festivals and touring, Lane came out blazing on her biggest run of shows to date, and left the kind of buzz that you don’t usually expect on a Sunday evening.

But while Lane was the one to leave the crowd satisfied several hours later, it was expat Steve Smyth who dutifully kicked the end of the weekend into fifth. Any man that plays a blood-spattered guitar is worth the time of day in my book, and a few minutes of watching Smyth was all that was needed to convince early comers that they’d eaten early for all the right reasons. Fluctuating band members gave him a helping hand along the way, as Smyth played like a rabid beast and looked the part, too (what a beard!); his rough blues vocals the highlight of it all. A cover of Lead Belly’s Bring Me Lil’ Water Silvie was frighteningly good, with Smyth taking a pace back from the microphone and belting out the tune without his guitar, before amping things back up out of the applause for a rock duo finale, No Man’s Land.

The Rubens may have helped sell a few tickets, it seems. On the back of a fair bit of hype and four sold-out Northcote Social Club shows, the venue was at full attention for the Sydney lads. Far from the gruff styling of Smyth before them, The Rubens presented a more slick combination of indie rock and blues, performing a tight set that quickly proved why they’re so easy to like. Likening their sound to The Black Keys is fair, but the quintet (they have an extra member live) have crafted their own cocktail of grit, soul and romance; Sam Margin’s voice being the band’s centrepiece. The Rubens finished with their pair of singles to etch their live selves into the minds of those watching; the longing croon of Lay It Down contrasting perfectly against the raucous finish of Don’t Ever Want to be Found.

By the time Lanie Lane and her band made their way on to stage, the Sunday blues were long forgotten (well, in one sense of the blues). Lane was all smiles as she looked out over the packed room on What Do I Do, rolling her way into an hour-long set that would have satisfied the loyal or new ears alike. Betty Baby followed, a song you couldn’t help but bob along to, before Lane’s song about “being out, getting drunk and grabbing people”, The Devil’s Sake, and the band’s now-customary cover of Gold on the Ceiling. The three tracks set smiles all round, with many trying to make a little room to find their groove.

Lane then made a point of getting the slow material out of the way; her voice shining on her album’s namesake To The Horses, as guitarist Aidan Roberts tinkered slowly beside her. By this stage Lane had settled herself in for the set and quickly became chatty between songs, demonstrating her genuinely open, gracious and positive-about-the-world attitude with loads of thanks and excited stories, not to mention a request for someone to take her horse riding quickly turning into a giddy realisation that they were going to the zoo the next day to be kissed by seals.

Lane’s set didn’t stick to her debut’s material, and both tracks from her 7 inch – recorded with Jack White – featured; the dark and smokey My Man only ever so slightly outdone by the corker of a rock and roller, Ain’t Hungry. There was new material as well, including a weeks-old No Sound (which slotted nicely into the set with its longing chorus); re-workings of older tracks, such as the reggae infused Like Me Meaner; and a gorgeous version of The Drug, a song by Roberts’ band The Maple Trail, that he and Lane performed beautifully together in the set’s encore. Of course Lane’s APRA-nominated That’s What You Get and the tour’s title track Bang Bang were favourites in the crowd, but given the rock gems they are, that was hardly a surprise.

It’s almost impossible not to like Lanie Lane; everything from her timeless style of rock ‘n’ roll through to her genuine excitement at getting to perform, not to mention her out-of-the-blue wookie impersonations (yes, wookie). A string of sold out Corner shows could mean big things for Lane in tours to come, and the gig was a fair demonstration of Lane running high on her successes, making it all the better for those with tickets.