The Astor Theatre
Friday, July 25, 2014
As the punters shuffled out of the rain and into the sold-out Astor Theatre, the talkative crowd was abuzz with excitement for the folk-inspired Splendour side show about to smash us in the face.
Nick Mulvey was up first, bathed in purple light he delivered a haunting rendition of April, which reverberated mellifluously up the walls of the packed theatre. Competing with the loud and unfortunate hum of human chitter-chatter, he eventually captured the crowd’s silence with an enjoyable cover of Gillian Welch’s Look At Miss Ohio before capping off his set with the more upbeat and playful, Cucurucu, from his latest album, First Mind. The lively crowd clapped along to the beat until the end, before Mulvey made a point to humbly thank Perth for having him before leaving the stage with friendly wave. Great bloke.
Ben Howard hit the stage to a welcoming roar from the crowd who were in turn greeted with one of his new songs, Small Things – a track likely to appear on his next album rumoured to be out in the near future (quietly frothing). The sombre and eerie vibe of the new tune was complimented by the full sounding acoustics of the Astor – an absolute treat to listen to. Once the band kicked into the crescendo during Black Flies the crowd response was huge, one slippery punter turning to his mate to proclaim, ‘It’s a big yes so far! A reeaalll big yes!’ It was evident that he was having a peach of a time, and you couldn’t blame him.
Dancing and crowd sing-alongs popped up several times throughout the set, though as could be expected the biggest response came when Ben started plucking the intro to Keep Your Head Up. At this point in time being front-and-centre was a great decision – plenty of happy campers singing every word to arguably his most recognised tune made for a magical moment in time where morale seemed to be at an all-time high.
The set came to a close and though it was a little bit disappointing that there was no encore from the headline act, there was no denying that it was (as a nearby buddy of mine so eloquently described it) a ‘Barry Balltearer’ of a gig.