Monday, December 7, 2009


Monday, June 02, 2008 
The Toff

The simple delight in seeing a songwriter, any songwriter, so fully be able to express their craft is likely to always be a rare pleasure. Tonight saw evidence that Guy Blackman is a character who has clearly earned great respect from a lot of people through his variously pursued passions for music, and it is tribute to his songs that they aren't overshadowed by the caliber of guests he brings on to flesh them out.

Opening act, the perfectly-titled Always, is a curious prospect. Kneeling - sometimes lying - on the floor, for the most part hidden behind a huge beard and a curtain of lanky black hair, Always proceeds to let us glimpse at an often unholy relationship between man and machine, or man and delay pedal and pitch shifter to be more precise. Variously industrial, funny, animalistic , onomatopoeic yet entirely corporeal in his sounds, Always delivers three very different pieces which, as Laura Jean later states, perfectly sets the mood for his evening.

Laura Jean's ebullient songs rise and fall with measured perfection as rendered by her 5-piece band. With an impassive gaze that more suits appraising farmland than engaging a crowd in an classy establishment, Laura Jean proves to be an engaging and naturally charming presence. From simmering away in the background of the local music scene, her latest album Eden Land provides most of the set's highlights (Anniversary, Mikhail and the closing Love Is Going To Lead Us particularly),  but even those get a close run by No Mystery 'our first foray into political songwriting,' she says, and the impossibly lilting Valentine, a song that showcases her Sandy Denny-ish voice beautifully. The band give us lessons on how to arrange folk songs that almost seem impossibly nuanced and effortless. A perfect choice for support.

"It's a night of nights for me," says Blackman taking to the stage and seating himself behind a Wurlitzer organ. "It's the end of a long journey." With guests lining the wall and there being little room to move by the time he finished the opening I Still Think Of You, he soon seems to feel at home, as he should be, having made a home for himself among the musical community of Melbourne over the last 12 years. Isobel Knowles, Geoff O'Connor, Mark Monnone, Julian Patterson, Mick Turner, Clare Moore, Jess and Nick Venebles, Peggy Frew, Alison Bulger and Nisa Venerosa all lend their considerable talents to bringing most of Adult Baby to life which peaks with a gorgeous Older, a shimmering Johnny, the embarrassingly intimate Act Like You Don't, blistering Carlton North and everyone-on-for-the-final-song thrill of Gayle. Listening to Blackman's impeccably sincere songs you feel you know him well, and he's an incredibly hard guy not to like and be grateful for.

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