LIVE: Fraser A Gorman, Big White, Julia Jacklin @ Newtown Social Club, Sydney, 10th Jul

Julia Jacklin

Blue Mountains singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin opens up solo tonight, just a rich voice accompanied by bassy and finger-brushed guitar coming completely clean from a Vox amp, playing songs that sound like something valuable’s been lost. Artists like this so often come off whiny or unnecessarily morose, but there’s something about the pacing that demands you slow down a bit, and just pay some damn attention. There’s enough going on with the fairly intricate finger-picking to keep the tempo going but the voice actually lowers the pulse instead of raising it. It’s like curling up with a thick book, an almost old-fashioned pleasure, a reminder that simple things done well and with craft really can capture your attention for longer than a few seconds.

She’s just about to go and record an album, and when it comes out it’ll need a decent slug of whiskey at its side. And a dog. Or a horse. In fact, when the album comes out you will buy it on vinyl, you will mix yourself an old-fashioned, you will lift and carefully place the needle on track 1, turn it up and then wander outside to look at the infinity of stars above you and ponder the simultaneous joy and tragedy of life. It’ll be fun, you’ll enjoy it.

See a full photo set of Julia Jacklin here

Big White

The energetic, multi-singered Big White fill the sandwich tonight, and from note one are bouncing about like jumping beans in a shoe. Brimful of energetic fun, they all take on vocal duties at one point or another, chirrupping gleefully over bouncy, synthy mad-pop.

Latest one ‘You Know I Love You’ is delivered with synths and aplomb, and there’s enough vim and chutzpah in the whole set to keep an army of Friday night dancers more than happy. It’s a lot of fun, looking forward to hearing more from this lot over the coming months.

See a full Big White photo set here

Fraser A Gorman

It’s Fraser A Gorman‘s first ever time headlining in Sydney tonight, which feels a bit odd since anyone here following Courtney Barnett’s social feeds (ie most of us, I’ll bet) over recent months will have heard plenty about him already. Releasing his Slow Gum album through Barnett’s own Milk! label, tonight’s presumably got a fair bit to do with stepping out of that whopping shadow.

To be honest though, there’s no danger of anything else – it’s a good-natured crowd, and for a Newtown Friday night, a relatively calm one, and it’s like we’re welcoming back an old friend, with most of the crowd seated and a particularly laid-back atmosphere seeping from the walls.

From the first strum of “Big Old World”, just Gorman and an acoustic, through the rest of the full-band set, there’s rarely a bum note, his wry storytelling carrying the crowd and drowning us all in a thick, soupy, rural twang. It’s ruddy marvellous. Such a great way with words too – from the plaintive “to me country music always sounded like rock n roll” to the whimsical “Won’t you be my queen, I’ll be your favourite dancing machine”, it’s witty and gentle and sharp as a switchblade all at the same time, Dylan meets Eef Barzelay.

With the only mis-step coming in as part of his inter-song banter – where he rather unwisely called Sydney’s public transport ‘really good’ –  it’s a delight of a night, like a trip to the country with a fire and a blanket. While other bands blow the roof off venues with volume or speed or aggression, Fraser A Gorman takes the smarter approach, and simply makes you remember all the stars that shine above.

See a full photo set of Fraser A Gorman here