Nov 8, 2007

Bill Callahan @ The Factory

Bare Feet. Jeans. White T Shirt. Simple and unadorned. Bill Callahan Wednesday night at the Factory Theatre. However the music was far from plain. A pleasure from music derived deep in the soil was most surely appreciated by all. Grand and elegant, yet also stirring and moving, these were sounds to soak in and dwell over. Formally the artist known as Smog, Mr Callahan now sports his own name on the programme. Playing a set mostly comprised of songs from his 2007 release "Woke On A Whaleheart" and his last release as Smog, his melodic fingerpicking on a very modest sized guitar was delightful and serene. His voice always keeps on an even keel, with nary an inflection on display. It is deep and resonant, lacking great arcs but containing a soulful tone that expresses the lyrics in a direct and honest way that ensures that their power is delivered to the audience. His beautiful sounds were augmented by a great band behind him. Tim Rogers (Jack Ladder) played bass and Lawrence Pike (Pivot) showed once again that he is without peer behind the drum kit. His playing his intuitive and graceful, always in sync with the song and extremely creative to boot. Then there were 3 Violin players, whose sweeping strings only made the music seem more grand. Many wonderful songs were played, but I loved "Say Valley Maker" and "Teenage Spaceship" especially. Great to hear "Bathysphere" is still a live staple and "Rock Bottom Riser" was a moving song in the encore. A great performance, devoid of spectacle (except for Bill's strange little dance) but rich in texture and deep in meaning.

Set List

Our Anniversary
Diamond Dancer
Held
Teenage Spaceship
Sycamore
Let Me See The Colts
The Well
Say Valley Maker
Bowery
Bathysphere
River Guard

Rock Bottom Riser
In The Pines
Cold Blooded Old Times

More photos at my Flickr.

Support acts were Fire Kites, whose set was pleasant but not memorable and was unfortunately ruined by a poor sound mix and Underlapper who I was very impressed by. This six piece hails from Sydney and their music is a blend of sweeping instrumentals and serene vocal excursions. With many influences on display, their sound was grand and elegant, stately and tranquil with the occasional burst of energy. They reminded me a little of Do Make Say Think, which from my point of view is a huge compliment. I picked up their recently released second album "Red Spring" after the show, which I look forward to listening to.

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