Live Music + Gig Reviews

Angus and Julia Stone @ Scala, London

08 May 2008

Angus and Julia Stone got together (in a musical sense) in 2006 in Sydney. Since then, they’vebrought a touch of southern hemisphere magic to these curious shores. And as a result, their bright andmoving music tonight summoned a diverse and excited audience.

They are a curious couple. Juliais a well-mannered maiden in a vibrant red dress, Angus a typically laconic fella in black andwhite. They launch into their set and when there voices intertwine they seem more inseparable thenmere siblings. They are moreakin to spirits, ethereal wonderful sprites of song. The decorated set adds to the whimsical,folksy, magic of the midsummer dreaming. Chintz sits next to and under foliage and cartoonscharacters and the starry backdrop creates an unusual and mystic atmosphere.

She has ababyish quality to her voice. Somehow it is as if the adult voice is only creeping and peeping outof a child. But the harmonies are deep, resonating and affecting. Julia shows herself to be the more emotive and open one but the vocalverging and merging vulnerability is a striking feature when both of them perform.

PaperAeroplanes, The Beast, Mango Tree and Private Lawn predictably take precedence in a list ofhighlights. They throw in flushes and flairs of Spanish guitar, bass and when Julia takes up thetrumpet with a tone that touches on a more Latin morna style there is a new found glimmer ofdelighted grins in the audience. Half way through he’s playing some classic rock guitar while she ison keyboard. Julia bowls us over with her dark dramatic side showing that when she lets rip andexposes the true size of the full voice she is a star.

The intimate feel of the gig is on par with eavesdropping alone atrehearsal or just kicking out with a few friends and the band. Introductions to the songs are madepersonal by their tender nods to their manager, birthdays and back-stories where they apply. Juliasings a brand new love song called For You, for a brand new little beau. Through this and Wasted thesilent audience are totally engaged to the point where they forget to get digital happy on theircamera-phones.

Other highlights included a snippet of a Culture Beat cover MisterVain, and somehow, managing to meld Barbaranne by the Beach Boys and Joy Division’s Transmission. Thefinal track is a pounding, multi percussion, tripping, trickling effort. They manage to take theaudience on a trip to nostalgic summer trips and love affairs.

Maybe it’s just the weatherbut I’m glad to indulge in the fantasy a while. The multi instrumentalists will continue theirEuropean tour before returning to Australia for the rest of the summer. If only they had stayed forthe festival season we would have been truly blessed.

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