Marlon Williams @ Rosemount Hotel
w/ The Weather Station
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Marlon Williams’ first visit to Perth saw him with an acoustic guitar playing to a handful of people at a jazz club. In a few short years he is now packing out rooms and playing festivals. This evening was the first chance to hear him play songs from his second album Make Way For Love.
When Canadian actress Tamara Lindeman isn’t playing roles for the screen, she is fronting her band The Weather Station. As the opener for this tour, she has dispensed with her band and taken to the stage in solo mode.
The quietly spoken performer had a centre part and a floral dress that fit in well with her folk infused tunes. Lindeman put a modern slant on traditional sounding folk music with dexterous picking of her guitar and a warm voice. Kept It All To Myself survived the transition even though it was the first time she had played it without her band. Thirty had a country slant to finish an accomplished set from a criminally underrated overseas visitor.
On previous tours, Marlon Williams has been the best dressed person in the room. Tonight his band The Yarra Benders, were still at their dapper best, but the lanky New Zealander hit the stage in a white bonds t-shirt and tracksuit pants with bad elastic. It is difficult to reconcile the voice of an angel spruiking songs about the tender hearted when they are delivered while in sports attire, but Williams is the rare type of singer who can pull this off.
Those early years spent in a church choir have paid dividends with Williams having a rich and clear voice that can melt hearts on slow burns like Come To Me, or conjure more sinister tales of dusty lands during I Know a Jeweller. The Yarra Benders switched between instruments with fiddle, double bass and keyboards being added to their usual guitars and drums repertoire.
Usually one to lead his band from behind a guitar, Williams made his way to the nord keyboard to show that he has more strings to his bow these days. Beautiful Dress is the standout on the latest record and was every bit as stunning in front of this full house. With each outing Williams and The Yarra Benders are becoming a more dynamic outfit. Dark Child showed a level of fire and brimstone that hasn’t been evident before.
A handful of covers were thrown into the set with Nobody Sees Me Like You Do (Yoko Ono) being a shiny slice of pop. Carried Away, the song that Barry Gibb wrote for Barbara Streisand only for her to knock it back, and then delivered to Olivia Newton John, was given an enthusiastic outing with the band nailing harmonies between smiles. A fast paced backing track was used for the energetic Party Boy that was more fun that it should be entitled to.
The rare misfires came in the form of Vampire Again, which had Williams showing some of his most unsure dance moves of the evening. Williams poked fun at his ex-girlfirend Aldous Harding before a heartfelt recital of the duet that he wrote for her, Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore. With the crowd being one of the most positive and supportive that Williams said he’d encountered, he climbed onto the barrier in front of the stage to croon Make Way For Love as a fitting way to end his set.
Marlon Williams has always been blessed with a truly special voice. His growth as a musician, writer and entertainer in the past few years hints at someone who is a very special talent indeed.
Photo by Rachael Barrett