The Palace Theatre, Melbourne
25 March 2010
It is evident from their new album, Down the Way, that Angus and Julia Stone are maturing as musicians. Their music sounds like it has more body. Their lyrics are still gorgeous, but there's a change to the way their voices harmonise together perfectly; the the depth of their music. It's suddenly gotten more power and less wisp, but still full of whimsy. Angus just soars with his guitar work and Julia's lyrics and vocals can send shivers just due to the directness of her storytelling.
I had never been to The Palace Theatre before (it was previously The Metro) – it reminded me of The Forum, but I felt further from the stage, even though I was in the second row from the front.
The concert reminded me everything about why I fell in love with Angus and Julia Stone on 2006. I absolutely love seeing live bands, but there are only several that have the capacity to make me feel immersed in their music.
The number of instruments they collectively play is also astounding. Julia played the harmonica, keyboard, electric and acoustic guitars, trumpet, and then there's her voice, and her dress, which I class as an instrument in its own right (the way she swishes it around, she gives life to it, like a whole other band member!). Angus played the harmonica, acoustic and electric guitars and keyboard.
Julia has a beautiful child-like way of dancing. She plays with her dress, twirls her hands and dances on her toes across the stage.
What I really like about the Stones is the admiration they have for each other. In one song, Julia knelt on the stage watching Angus sing as though she was in awe of him, as though it was the first time she'd seen him sing and play music. Angus said that he doesn't say it enough but he loves playing music with Julia and he is honoured to be on stage with such an amazing writer. Julia was visibly moved, and the crowd gave a collective awwww.
Angus has opened up on stage since I saw them play last in 2008. He tells beautiful stories of his loves lost, in a soft voice that makes girls' hearts melt. He told a story before the song Big Mercedes Benz about how he was hitchiking to a music festival and he just wanted to get to know the girl in the front passenger seat. It was a beautiful story for a beautiful song. He has definitely become more talkative on stage. And definitely progressively hairier!
And Julia. Sigh. She is just beautiful. Definitely a woman I admire. The stories she tells before her songs, and in her lyrics, are so identifiable. She told a story about how she was in love with a boy and she wrote him the song 'For You' and sent it to him over the internet. He wrote back about a week later, replying with a song that was about death. She finally got the hint he didn't love her back. Again, the crowd gave a collective awwww. She seems too beautiful, too fragile for anyone not to love. Her lyrics are so honest and raw that there is an innate depth to her physical attractiveness. She wore a stunning jade green beaded dress that my photos don't do justice to. Julia Stone is amazing.
While they ave an extensive catalogue of hits to play, and I could truly watch them play everything they've written, they left quite a few of the more well known songs out and played a good portion of their Down the Way album.
Highlights for me were:
- You're the one that I want – the Grease song, sung by Julia. She made it slow and breathy, which I recall caused a few wolf whistles and a 'Julia, you rock my world' call out.
- Dreams – a Fleetwood Mac cover, again sung by Julia. With support act, Boy and Bear, accompanying the Stones and their band, it sounded fantastic. Fleetwood Mac is one of my favourite bands ever, and it was a delight to see another favourite band play their song.
- And the Boys – this is perfect.
- For you – another perfect song, it breaks my heart to hear the lyrics as they resonate with me.
- Draw Your Swords – Angus singing 'let's not fuck around' is hot. Let's face it.
- Just a Boy – upbeat, and Angus singing it. He looked like he was having fun, and that's what I like to see.
I was lucky enough to get the set-list. I have a huge collection of set-lists now - Angus and Julia Stone, Darren Hayes, Bob Evans and Crowded House (my best accomplishment!).
The crowd was ok – less noisy than last time at The Forum, but still noisier than I liked during Boy and Bear's set. I guess I've been spoilt and seen Angus and Julia Stone many times at small venues when they were lesser known. I want so much for my favourite bands to get a huge following but that also comes with a trade off – more fans that are less devoted. It sounds selfish of me I know, but I hated hearing people talking through the gig. I just want everyone to enjoy the music and not comment on everything that is happening around them or talking to friends on the phone. It wasn't too noisy, but it is an irritant when you hear the person next to you having a conversation when the band is playing. Anyhow, it is a conundrum, I know. More fans with less devotion. More technology, more disruption. How do you police gig etiquette?
(Edit - here is what Angus and Julia have to say on the issue of crowds talking through their songs.)
Here are some photos - I was captivated by Julia dancing. Apologies for the graininess - I need to work out how to use my camera in dim concert conditions!