The Clouds, Clare Bowditch @ National Museum Australia, Canberra (09/03/12)

Friday night saw the Enlighten Festival bring Clare Bowditch and nineties indie rock band The Clouds to Canberra to play at the idyllic and very beautiful lakeside amphitheatre at the National Museum of Australia. Despite serious sabotage the previous weekend from Poseidon and friends, the Canberra Festival finally struck some luck with a solid weekend of glorious weather. Perfect conditions ensued for the diverse posse of picnickers who descended on the NMA outdoor event, with bottles of wine and blankets the accessories du jour.

Sassy songstress Clare Bowditch kicked the night off accompanied by the talented Tim Harvey while the rest of her band was in Victoria preparing for the Port Fairy Festival the next day. With calm skies and the setting sun painting the sky pink, there couldn’t be a more beautiful spot to listen to this charming woman with her quirky stories and most amazing voice. Peccadilloes opened the set followed by Little Black Cave both off The Moon Looked On. It wouldn’t be a Clare Bowditch gig without crowd participation, so as usual there was plenty of that – and as usual – varying degrees of success and tune.

There was plenty more from The Moon Looked On including Between the Tea and Toast, You Look So Good and crowd favourite When The Lights Went Down. New song The Big Happy was a hit and Bowditch explained the song was written for television show Offspring where we’ll soon see her playing the role of a musician named Rosanna.

Bowditch closed her set with Running and Modern Day Addiction. Unfortunately the pull-someone-from-the-crowd-who-knows-the-lyrics didn’t go as well as it might have for Modern Day Addiction with the middle-aged volunteer being a little too souped up on shiraz to remember any lyrics. Oh well. The always-charming Bowditch played a crowd appropriate laid-back set that drew on her vocal talents that absolutely stand alone without the full band.

Some (many) were unaware that nineties indie-rock band The Clouds, not Clare Bowditch, was the headline act for the night and a few people even left after the first set. Oh were they silly! The Clouds absolutely rocked the place and won many a new fan with their fabulous sound and vocals. Reuniting last year after a 14 year hiatus the band is fronted by Jodi Phillis and Trish Young – two women with beautiful voices and talent on guitar and bass respectively. The Sydneysiders didn’t waste any time, showing the crowd what nineties post-punk indie rock was all about.

The band barely introduced a song and banter was kept to a minimum, playing hits spanning their catalogue including Hieronymus, House of the Sun and Bower of Bliss. 1992 hit Say It is as catchy today as it was back then and had many a 40-something head bopping along and mouthing the lyrics while trying not to spill the Shiraz. Dave Easton on guitar and Raphael Whittingham on drums complete the current iteration of The Clouds and were the quiet achievers on the night playing a very business-like set.

Snaps to the NMA and Enlighten Festival for once again using one of Canberra’s most beautiful and unique gig locations – oh how we wish it were used more often. Three cheers for the Canberra Festival!