Jan 9, 2016

Kurt Vile @ Sydney Opera House

A Kurt Vile show is one to totally immerse yourself in. It's not flashy. It's real and natural. It's not perfect, but close your eyes and listen. Listen real hard and hear the guitar, hear the melodies. Give in and it will give you much back. It won't dazzle, but it will surprise and delight. Thursday night Kurt and his Violators played the iconic Opera House and I was blown away. Off the back of his latest and greatest new album we were able to hear these new songs in a setting that actually helped. "Dust Bunnies" got the show going and when "Pretty Pimpin" came along we were lost in the sound. Guitars falling back into themselves, elaborate chord changes and subtle shifts in sound. When it got to "Wheelhouse" (my new favourite) I was gone. Transported to the land of bliss. But it got better. Kurt took up his acoustic and the band joined him for "That's Life tho (almost hate to say), which was serene and beautiful. Then the band left and Kurt stayed and gave us two solo numbers including a sublime "Stand Inside". Vile's melodies are quite complex and watching him play the guitar is quite an experience. His tunings and technique are not the usual. And sometimes he misses a chord as he tries the impossible. But I think this adds to the show. It's perfection crashing into imperfection. Giving us something real rather than stage managed. Vile also has a goofy charm on stage. He is endearingly awkward, never saying much but sometimes grinning beneath his huge hair. And for all his laconic mannerisms you can see he takes much pride in getting it right on stage. Even if he doesn't always get there. But the time he finished the set with the other worldly "Girl Called Alex" I felt nourished and enriched. I felt like I had witnessed an imperfect and improbable greatness.

Set List
Dust Bunnies
Pretty Pimpin
I'm an Outlaw
Jesus Fever
Wheelhouse
That's Life tho (almost hate to say)
Stand Inside (Kurt solo)
Dead Alive (Kurt solo)
KV Crimes
Wakin on a Pretty Day
Hunchback
Freak Train
Wild Imagination

Lost My Head There
Girl Called Alex

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