Rob Snarski @ Fremantle Arts Centre
Sunday, November 11, 2018
Sunday afternoons at the Fremantle Arts Centre have become an institution. Over the past few years, it is rare to attend a show that is less than jam-packed, where families and music lovers of all ages take the opportunity to have a picnic under the London Plain trees whilst being serenaded by some fine tunes. Former Perth boy Rob Snarski again filled the venue and lived up to his reputation as the velvet voiced troubadour.
Snarski spent his formative years on stage as a member of local acts Chad’s Tree and The Blackeyed Susans, before relocating to Melbourne a couple of decades ago. His visits to Perth are regular, but it is since the release of his debut solo album Wounded Bird in 2014 that he has really hit his stride as a solo performer. Appropriately dressed for the show with a wide brimmed hat and a considerable moustache, the singer’s voice was beyond reproach and his wit as dry as ever (which is a remarkable feat for such an avid Collingwood supporter).
Material drew heavily from the Wounded Bird album with Snarski apologising for the timid whistling during Black Caress, before making a brighter fist of it after a mid-song swig from the bottle. It Starts With Snow is the perfect Snarski tune as it couples the ideal amount of heartbreak with his manna from heaven voice. Newer compositions were also given an airing as a love song was wrapped up in a football analogy, during a tune that is a lament about “two experts in hindsight”.
He has never been shy of playing other people’s songs as the initial years of The Blackeyed Susans would attest, and most recently he recorded an album of covers on his iPhone, aptly titled Low Fidelity. Snarski’s favourite tune from that record is Fred Neil’s Dolphins and it was given a delicate rendition. The nylon-stringed guitar was swapped for a pair of glasses as Snarski read from the book You’re Not Rob Snarski ~ Crumbs From The Cake, where he told the tale of his meeting The Go-Betweens in Perth for the first time. It was fitting that he then played Henry Small as it was said to be one of Grant McLennan’s favourite of the new Snarski recordings.
Catherine Traicos was quietly called to the stage to sing a duet from 2002 with When Will You Come My Way, and she again turned heads of people who had not heard her chesty vocals before. Having offered his voice during the shows by The Triffids in recent years, Snarski has been able to draw on their catalogue in his set. He sheepishly admitted to wanting to end on Wide Open Road, and it didn’t take much coaxing for him to put his smooth tones over the unofficial Australian anthem. It was a fitting end to a relaxed and rewarding afternoon in the fresh air.
Photos by Chris O’Halloran