Friday,January 24, 2014
Thanks to a massive night playing Big Star’s Sister Lovers the evening before, Perth were treated to two of power pop luminaries in the form of Chris Stamley and Ken Stringfellow. After the previous night’s massive blow out, the show at the Astor would be an affair where the two performers had ‘set the trap for quail’ and gave their all to the most modest of modest crowds.
Former member of The Sneakers and The dBs, Chris Stamey, looks like a shrunken version of Neil Finn but has as many pop chops. The diminutive singer was joined by a viola and cello as he played a set of tunes including the opener Far Away And Long Ago that he insisted was from the dBs album ‘that is not one of the albums you like.’ Stamey showed off a collection of tunes that the string players learnt on the spot from the sheet music supplied, including solo works such as 27 Years In A Single Day.
With decades of material to choose from, Stamley didn’t draw too readily from one era but Happenstance was the most welcome addition of the night. While Stamey’s guitar playing is impressive to say the least even on an acoustic guitar, no effort was made to hold up his status as a pop maestro with most tunes being pared back and slowed down. It was a fine set but not as impressive as it could have been.
While Stamey was polite but aloof, Ken Stringfellow addressed the crowd as if they had dropped into his place for dinner. After having rounded up the punters from the bar and waited for everyone to find their seat before he stepped on stage, Stringfellow launched into one of the most entertaining opening banters for some time.
Stringfellow swapped between guitar and keyboards at will as he worked his way through an ever-evolving setlist. Known Diamond was well received and Fine Yourself Alone was the first request of the night that Stringfellow obliged politely. The evening got more intimate as time wore on with Stringfellow walking off stage with his guitar to stand amongst the punters whether delivering the tunes or sharing his thoughts on Justin Bieber and Canadian border officials.
The touring member of REM pulled well into his kit bag, with a slowed down take on Solar Sister being the best received tune of the night. The criminally underrated This One’s On You was stripped back and was all the better for it, being the finest six minutes of the show. Having been on stage for close to two hours Stringfellow checked the time and still had plenty left to give. Sparrow, Death Of A City and Big Star’s Nightime were all given the delicate treatment of their peers and Stringfellow announced that CD are for sale in the foyer.
It was an intimate, odd and yet entertaining evening that was ended with Stringfellow chatting and shaking hands with all as they left the venue. Each person in attendance would have left feeling that Stringfellow pulled out a little extra just for them and gave them more than their monies worth.