Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Music & The Machine–An Enchanting Evening

Dave Rawlings Machine – photo from ABC RN Facebook

This is the first opportunity I have had to post about the Dave Rawlings Machine concert at the Palais last Friday night.

Seeing the Gillian Welch / Dave Rawlings duo a fortnight ago, certainly didn’t jade the pallet for more divine music from the pair.

We had better seats this time, four rows from the front, so even though, disappointingly, photos were not permitted, it didn’t in any way detract from the pleasure of the night’s entertainment.

It was quite a different set up and sound. The added accompaniments of Willie Watson on violin, banjo and guitar, Brittany Haas on violin and Paul Kowert on double bass delivered a deeper and richer sonic landscape; quite bluegrassy in fact.

In the Dave Rawlings Machine, David Rawlings assumes lead vocals, while Gillian Welch sings background harmonies and plays her rhythm guitar, though she did sing a couple of songs as lead. Gillian’s voice is warm and honey coloured and stands out even when several male vocalists are singing harmonies.

Willie Watson added his distinctive voice to many of the songs and was lead vocalist on Stewball, a traditional ditty about a racehorse He was formerly a member of Old Crow Medicine Show, so I’ve seen him before performing with them. And Paul Kowerts also took the lead on the gospel inspired He Will Set Your Fields On Fire.

As was the case in the Gillian Welch concert, there was an intermission of approximately 30 minutes half way through the show, where the band goes off to do mysterious things (David Rawlings words) and the audience does likewise.

However, we didn’t go next door to Luna Park and ride on the Scenic Railway as the band purportedly did and cheerfully admitted when they returned on stage for the second set.

Gillian Welch and David Rawlings have been driving to all their Australian concerts, crossing the Nullabor early in their tour, performing shows at Perth and Adelaide, then Sydney, Canberra, Bangalow and Melbourne. They have an aversion to flying, which explains why it took them 11 years to return.

Both the Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings Machine shows were wonderful in diverse ways, so I’m glad I seized the opportunity to see them this time around. I doubt if they’ll be back this way anytime soon.

Setlist (from Setlist.fm)

1. The Weekend

2. Bodysnatchers

3. Pilgrim (You Can't Go Home)

4. Wayside/Back in Time

5. To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High) (Ryan Adams cover)

6. Bells of Harlem

7. Keep It Clean (Charley Jordan cover)

8. The Trip

9. It's Too Easy


10. Ruby

11. The Last Pharaoh

12. He Will Set Your Fields on Fire (Bill Monroe cover)

13. Sweet Tooth

14. I Hear Them All / This Land Is Your Land (Woody Guthrie cover)

15. Stewball ([traditional] cover)

16. Short Haired Woman Blues

17. Queen Jane Approximately (Bob Dylan cover)

Encore 1:

18. Look at Miss Ohio (Gillian Welch cover)

19. Method Acting / Cortez the Killer

Encore 2:

20. The Weight (The Band cover)

21. Didn't Leave Nobody But the Baby ([traditional] cover)


Music Festival time is only a few weeks off, when music lovers in Australia are spoilt for choice.

I’ve got tickets to five upcoming shows in March, April and June.

I’m looking forward to seeing Jason Isbell at Melbourne Recital Centre on 29 March. His opening act is non other than the delightful Eilen Jewell, whom I’m catching again the following night in a headline show at Thornbury Theatre.

On April Fool’s Day Frazey Ford (of The Be Good Tanyas fame) is at Caravan Music Club, and local singer writers Liz Stringer and Suzannah Espie are performing there together on 21 April.

And in June I’m seeing John Mellencamp at Rod Laver Arena, courtesy of a Ticketek Gift Voucher from Nu Country.

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