Mar 28, 2009

Darren Hanlon @ Petersham Town Hall

It's close to impossible not to enjoy a Darren Hanlon show. Even for someone like me who is nowhere near an expert on his music. But he is such a likeable, charming and intelligent host. Witty, yet humble. True and honest. Great value, without doubt. His music, to me, is not earth shattering. He writes a nice melody and he has a soft lilting voice. Plus, he writes heartfelt and sometimes comic lyrics. But it's the package as a whole that makes him so pleasurable. Plus, the very Australianess of him. But it's a good Australianess. Not the image of Pauline Hanson or Malcolm Turnbull or Lawrie Lawrence. Not the ugly Australian. Not the cliche, but rather the truth. The heart.

It starts with the venue. He chose the Town Hall in the suburb in which he lives. Not your typical venue. We sat on plastic chairs in a hall probably used for school choirs or bingo nights. We made gold coin donations for warm soft drink and sausage sandwiches. He extolled the virtues of the neighbourhood. The Lord of the Rings pinball machine at the Newington Inn and so forth. It's in his songs, such as "2480" about the town of Lismore. He is quite a raconteur too. Telling us quaint and charming stories of his recent past. Such as playing in a strip club in Tasmania. He revels in the small things (like Darren Hanlon teaspoons), the things that make our culture unique to us. Not the big things. Hanlon paints with small strokes, not broad ones. This is reflected in his music. Whether it is ukelele led "Hold On", a beautiful opener. Or the banjo led "Falling Aeroplanes", his one 'hit' as he describes it. Then there's the comical songs like "Electric Skeleton", which is fun but I definitely prefer the quieter more ballad like numbers. A definite highlight was the closer "The Perfect Day", a cover of the Fischer Z song which appears on his latest release "Pointing Rayguns At Pagans", a collection of covers and B-sides from his career. As said, it was a thoroughly enjoyable night. A night that felt like your best friend just dropped by to play a few charming and amiable songs.

Set List
Hold On
2480
Heart Made Of Stone
Elbows
And The Days Were Just Packed
The Ostracism Of Vinny Lalor
Electric Skeleton
Service Station
Lee Remick
Eli Wallach
I Wish That I Was Beautiful For You
Butterfly Bones
Lights
Video Party Sleepover
Hiccups
The Perfect Day

Yes, There Is A Slight Chance He Might Actually Fail
Falling Aeroplanes
Pinball Millionaire
Notes On Leaving

Support act was Brooklyn anti-folk artist Jeffrey Lewis. He was great, full of charm and great wit. Although not a great singer, he carried the audience easily. Singing about Will Oldham and Leonard Cohen, his songs were dark and epic and at times extremely funny. His 'paper films' were great. Especially the one entitled "The History of Communism: Russia". Priceless.

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