Jan 27, 2007

Joanna Newsom/Bill Callahan/Andrew Bird @ NIDA

Spunk Records are to be congratulated for producing an exquisite and unique night of music at the Parade Theatre at NIDA in Kensington on Friday night. Celebrating their 200th release the night began at 7.30 and before you knew it was 11.50 and I think everyone felt they had witnessed something special. Plus everyone went home with a free sampler CD and poster.

Joanna Newsom was the headliner and she provided a sublime set of music. She opened with "Bridges and Balloons" before hitting my favourite "Emily" from her towering achievement "Ys". The amazing harpist then proceeded to generallly switch back and forth with material from her 2 albums. Highlights were stunning versions of "Sawdust & Diamonds" and "Only Skin" and then to finish with "Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie" was truly satisfying. Ms Newsom's harp playing really has to be witnessed live. Her dexterity and fingerwork creates a sound that transports the mind and heart to another world. Incredibly moving, the only thing that betters it is her beautiful voice. I find that not only has her song writing matured on "Ys" but that her voice has too, it has blossomed into something to treasure. Also I thought that perhaps she would be accompanied by a string section of some sort, like her recorded work, but it actually was great to hear her songs in a less ornate style, just superb. I love Joanna.

Set List
Bridges and Balloons
This Side of the Blue
The Book of Right-On
Sawdust & Diamonds
Only Skin
Ca’ the Yowes to the Knowes
Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie

Bill Callahan, or Andrew Bird for that matter, was no second fiddle. Only playing a short time Bill played a stripped back set on acoustic guitar. Sitting down throughout, his deep, powerful voice resonated throughout the theatre. He opened with an old classic in "Bathysphere" before playing a moving "Our Anniversary". He played a couple of new tunes from his forthcoming album "Woke On A Whaleheart" named "Diamond Dancer" and "Sycamore". This will be his first release as Bill Callahan rather then under his usual moniker "Smog". I particularly liked Sycamore. He closed with 3 songs from his most recent release "A River Ain't Too Much To Love" in "In the Pines", "Let Me See the Colts" (he was joined on violin by Andrew Bird, incredible stuff) and a very moving "Rock Bottom Riser". Callahan is very unassuming but his guitar playing and voice surely packs quite an emotional punch.

Andrew Bird, well what can one say, he is some kind of genius. The man is a flurry of nervous energy. Switching effortlessly from violin to guitar to xylophone to whistling he truly astounds. A short set was filled with more originality and musicianship then you will see from most artists in a life time. He normally opens with violin, which he loops to be reproduced during each song before going to his guitar. He started with a thunderous instrumental before going into "Sovay", "A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left" and "Measuring Cups". A taste of his new album "Armchair Apocrypha" was delivered with "Plasticities", I can't wait for that record. Andrew Bird has a very soulful voice and his violin playing is sublime, a great talent indeed.

Sydney's Holly Throsby was a surprise guest and she opened with a set of lovely, intimate songs. A nice surprise was to see Sarah Blasko join her on stage for a cover of Brian Eno's "By This River". A very enjoyable start to the evening.


  • At January 27, 2007 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Seems like I missed something special here. Holly and Sarah doing a Brian Eno song, wow that must've been amazing. Maybe I'll drop by and see andrew bird after joanna tonight.

  • At January 27, 2007 , Blogger Ian said...

    Wow, you've been to some amazing gigs recently!

    I'm seeing Joanna in a couple of months and I can't wait...

  • At January 27, 2007 , Blogger Wayne Massingham said...

    Ro- It was a magical night, you are so lucky to see Joanna again, hopefully she plays Only Skin for you. If you can try and see Andrew Bird- a unique talent too!

    Ian-You will enjoy Joanna, there is something hypnotic about her music

  • At January 27, 2007 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I tried to get photo access to her Melbourne gig but missed out and then I was going to buy a ticket and missed out on that too. Totally bummed :((((((

  • At January 27, 2007 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    surprised she didn't play a longer set actually...but that means i didn't miss much on the 25th! only skin is may least favourite Ys track so i wasn't heartbroken about missing that...but This Side of the Blue...LOVE that one.

  • At January 28, 2007 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    yes wayne she played only skin and sprout and the bean! i really couldn't ask for anything more. she cracked a few jokes about the 26th. did she look sober by the time she got on stage at NIDA?

  • At January 28, 2007 , Blogger Wayne Massingham said...

    Hard to tell, she said she was out in Sydney all day enjoying Australia Day. But its hard to tell if she is a little tipsy or its just her childlike innocence shining through. I know she drank water all the way through and didn't miss a beat.

  • At January 30, 2007 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    This is a great review Wayne - I was trying to avoid reading yours before I wrote about it myself because I know you usually cover everything so well :)

    It really was a great night, and the venue was perfect for the mood of the evening and the music. I am a brand new Joanna Newsome fan and really a bit excited about some of the music I heard on Friday night - there is so much stuff I haven't heard yet.

    I'd agree with hypnotic, but when I described her to someone today I used the word enchanting. I was more than a bit enchanted.

  • At January 30, 2007 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    P.S. Your photos on flicr from this gig are awesome :)


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home