Amistat @ Lass O’Gowrie Hotel, Newcastle NSW Australia 06/12/2017 written by Brendan Lewis.
Come now kiddies, let’s gather round the forest camp fire for some stories like old times. Once upon a time… there lived a pair of German twins Josef and Jan, who heard of a mysterious far away land called Australia, a land filled with weird jumping creatures who have absolutely no road sense called kangaroos, as well as a bloody-big rock in the middle of nowhere, and ale flowing in every town. So the two brothers discarded their lives of golf teaching and embarked on a magical quest to a land down under, where they stumbled across a unique sound of indie-folk music, and now are heading on a quest along the East Coast to take over the lands with their unique sound, celebrating the release of their new single ‘The Coward’. The next stop on this quest is in Newcastle, what will un-fold in this chapter of the journey I wonder…
After a quick sound-check, the sound is seamlessly flowed into the first song of the evening which has taken me by surprise, as it’s not until half way through the song that I realise that this isn’t still the sound-check, instead it’s actually the first song. With how quick and un-thorough the sound check was, I’m surprised that the twins’ vocal harmonies stand out nicely in the mix, and go beautifully atop rich quivering cello sounds. This song transitions from being a stripped back acoustic song, to now feature some light but effective percussive beats, which builds the song up nicely, expressing the soulful sound in both music and lyrics.
The band now say hi to their audience and have a casual yarn and joke around, as lead singer Josef introduces us to Julien on Cello as his twin brother (joke, his brother is Jan) which some spunky totally single blind guy at the front calls out “yeah I can see the resemblance”, adding a nice dash of humour to the intimate setting. For the next two songs which are separated by more fun quirky story telling and cheeky humour. The first song of this segment, features hauntingly beautiful trembling heart-felt vocals from Josef in perfect collaboration with Jan’s harmonies, swirling around smooth cello sounds and a complimenting beat that differs in rhythm between the verses and choruses, keeping things fresh and interesting. After a quick thank you, the next story told from Josef is of how on this tour they’re going up to Queensland, then down to Canberra then back up to Sydney and so on, and how being German they clearly don’t have any sense of direction… I’m blind and even I have a better sense of direction than that. The next song is strong with the folk-force, and features some emotionally raspy vocals in the intro, before the song is elevated to soaring high vocals amidst fresh beats, which climax into an array of astonishing wild cello riffs and a substantially more up-beat rhythm, in the songs’ bridge before returning to the steady mid-tempo rhythm for the songs’ completion.
This show so far has filled me with a warm pleasant feeling reminiscent of sipping on a smokey yet smooth glass of single malt whisky, around a bonfire in a lush forest setting, sharing stories with your mates.
Now the band share more stories with the audience and encourages us to ask them questions and join in on the action, which sets a welcoming glow to the performance. After that funky blind guy asks “what hidden talents do you have?” being the first thing that popped into my, I mean, their head which seems to have baffled the band a little, they now talk about the next song and it’s meaning. This song adds a nice blend of musical colour to the set around it, like stumbling across a beautiful old willow in the forest around the bonfire, set beneath a dark-blue sky as the sun shines it’s final glow. The song brings the atmosphere to a slightly heavier, darker yet calming sway feeling, like the willow trees leaves swaying in the wind, with its electric beat which stands out more so then previous beats displayed in the set, and some fluttering piano melodies like a butterfly, floating around the willow tree. The songs’ essence contrasts to a major key for the songs’ bridge, with the rest of the song around it being in a minor key, adding an uplifting contrast to the music while Josef’s soulful voice elevates to a soaring out-cry of emotion.
As the song comes to a close and the applause takes over, that spunky blind guy pipes up again with “random question, was that song in C minor?” which Jan in amazement confirms “it was actually, may I ask how you knew that?” and after I divulge how I knew, and how I could hear when the song went into E flat in the bridge, Jan replies “wow, I guess that’s your hidden talent” ….how did I know, hmmmm how indeed.
The rest of this captivating performance displays a spectrum of musical colour, like a trail of an assortment of aromatic flowers in the forest, as the band dazzle us with their unique blend of indie-soul sound, with climactic build ups that explode into a mist of heart-wrenching emotion, like fire sparking and shooting out from the bonfire as wood cracked beneath it. The band maximise the little space around them nicely, as they move and express their music in thoughtful movement, and of course continue to indulge us in stories and their quirky humour between the songs. The rest of the show is commenced with a cover of Linkin Park’s ‘Numb’, which is renditioned as such a uniquely foreign, beautiful, powerfully emotive version that it escapes my detection of the song it really is, to my shame, as Linkin Park are my ALL-TIME favourite band! This is like that one cheeky friend who takes advantage of their mate being blind and sneaks up on him like a ninja. The rest of the show also sees Josef ask the audience if they should play a slow calm track or an up-beat one, which all of us simultaneously demand an up-beat track. This funky track draws the audience closer to the bonfire of sound, and gets them dancing away at the wicked cello riffs and shining vocals, adding a perfect fresh addition of colour to the set which prompts the loudest cheer from the audience. After the Prasil twins share the piano for a stunning duet, the band thank us once again and play their final song. The final song brings a warm joyful glow to finish off the set, and with it’s dance-prompting sway and vocal harmonies among a field of smooth cello textures, leaving me with the feeling of a couple twirling and dancing in a passionate display, in an open field of bright-green flowers, on a backdrop of the morning sun. This song which if my ears are correct is in A-major, closes the set on happy note.
But wait, seems a little incomplete without the real conclusive happy ending in the form of the bands touring single ‘The Coward’ so I shout out an encore request of the song which Josef replies “ok, we’ll do an acoustic rendition just for you Brendan”. The song may be set in an acoustic manner, but is still accurate to the recording and sends tingles throughout my body at the out-burst of emotive power in all it’s raw glory, and with a big cheer from us in the audience, brings the perfect finish that the set deserves.
P.S That song really was in A-major, the band tell me after the show.
Indie folk may not be my preferred musical genre, but I’m in awe at the vast colourful musical talent shown from these guys, and their perfect execution of the recorded music along with their welcoming personality on stage was very enjoyable, and was well-worth checking out!