Apr 2, 2009

Augie March @ The Basement

You take what you can get at an Augie March show. I have been to two before last night and they were both wayward and unsatisfying affairs. Firstly, I am not a huge fan of the band. I recognise Glenn Richards as a great lyricist and powerful vocalist, but the music can be fairly mundane and lacking melody. But, if the band puts on a great show then a night with the band can still prove worthwhile. But, the band I have seen has been fairly lacklustre and fronted by a man who can be downright petulant and sour on stage. Glenn Richards is a wonderful talent, but he can quite surly and bitchy on stage, sucking all the joy out of the room. Would Wednesday night at The Basement prove any different? Well, yes and no.

Firstly, it was billed as low key and acoustic. Which it barely was. There were more acoustic guitars on stage, but the rocking numbers still rocked, barely changing a note. Except for one significant song. "One Crowded Hour" was broken down and slowed down, to its detriment. What works for this song is its unrelenting momentum and this new translation seem to lose all the majesty. My highlights of the night were definitely the slower, quieter songs. "Sunstroke House" was all burnt beauty, whilst "The Slant" was hushed and quite beautiful. The encore was great too, with a cover of The Kinks' "Days", followed by the closer "This Train Will Be Taking No Passengers" which was stunning. Basically just acoustic guitar and harmonica, it was slow and sublime. A great way to end the night. But it didn't start well. Glenn Richards, ever the perfectionist, was grimacing and complaining from the opening number and I really can't remember a song where he didn't have a pained look on his face. The sound was his main issue and he was not sparing in his disdain for the poor sound man. The sound wasn't perfect, but it was workable and I just feel that his attitude takes away a lot of the potential joy from an Augie March show. Funnily enough he might have realised he was being a bit of a brat, for halfway through he started apologising for his oubursts of petulance. So much so, that by the end of the night he was actually smiling and being quite gracious, showing that inside that restless perfectionist lives an interesting and vital human being. Maybe next time...

Set List
The Glenorchy Bunyip
One Crowded Hour
City Of Rescue
Sunstroke House
Little Wonder
Stranger Strange
The Cold Acre
Rich Girl
The Baron Of Sentiment
The Slant
There Is No Such Place

Heartbeat And Sails
This Train Will Be Taking No Passengers


  • At April 02, 2009 , Blogger Drone Magazine said...

    Great review. I'm much the same in my opinion of the band. I remember enjoying Sunset Studies a lot, but it's not something that has stuck with me over time. Obviously there's some great talent there, but I can't seem to stick with them... if that makes sense.


  • At April 05, 2009 , Blogger Pix said...

    never before could i even sum up my own opinion of augie march but i think you just did it in that review

    i don't know if it is me reading to much into things but as you said artists who worry too much about the sound spoils it alitte, perhaps it is also a sign they're over thinking to some degree rather than the whole musical experience being something more organic / natural?

    i dunno, maybe i should just get out more haha!


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