Well, that was huge fun. Jools and drove down to Colac (160 km)and it was a good run, although it rained off and on all the way. So why the hell were we driving all that way in the cold and the rain?
Shane’s gig was an absolute hoot. What a great show!!!
He was leading a 4 piece band (no drums). Shane on vocals and guitar, John Hudson on guitars and a Godin mandolin (never seen or heard one before – nice toy), Ewen Baker on fiddle and mando, Ruben Shannon on Bass and Double Bass.
They were amazing. It was so far from a slick and rehearsed reiteration of what’s presumably on the CD. It was a wonderful evening of musicians listening to each other guessing what was about to happen and reinventing/making up the arrangements as they went.
Total heaven to listen to.
We were sitting 12 feet back from Shane so the sound we heard was a mix of the PA, the foldback spill and the live stuff from the stage. There was no one in front of us.
Shane said during the gig that “there is nothing more exhilarating or terrifying than exposing new material for the first time” Well for those of us in the audience, the prospect is much the same. A performance without any of the songs and stories and memories that we have built up over the years.
The show starts with Shane doing an aboriginal welcome to place song, goes into the title track of the new album and finishes with a set of Irish tunes. Neatly sums up the threads we will be exploring over the next 2 hours and the show has only been running for 10 minutes.
I am so in awe of a performer who can chance alienating an audience of diehard fans by not doing his old tracks, we all know that there will be future opportunities to hear them but there will never ever be another “first time” for these songs. An amazing risk, and the songs?
My total favourite was his pirate song and murder ballad all rolled into one.
There were a lot of songs about the sea, love found and love lost. The title track “Deeper South” is classic Howard storytelling.
The audience was so small. Jools finds it hard to believe that so few people were in the audience, my guess would be 150 if he was lucky. I suppose it’s not the current generation’s taste, and he is unlikely to get any airplay, there was no hit single in what we heard.
Is he really a mainstream artist anymore? People I was working with on Friday didn’t know the name and it was only when you mention that mainstay of oldies rock radio “Solid Rock” they sort of go “oh yeah I’ve heard that. Is he still around?”
I confess that I find it completely amazing that in the same month I get to hear a brilliant new Jackson Browne album AND a brilliant new Shane Howard album (albeit live). Both are songwriters who need you to actually listen and pay attention to their words and stories that they are telling, both do it with such apparent ease (and great guitar sounds).
Shane said that he had his poetic license renewed. Have to tell you he played some of the best guitar I have heard him play for years.
So was it worth all the money, the miles, the pain, and being offline for nearly 2 days by choice?
Hope your weekend was as much fun as ours.
As I have said before, if you ever get a chance to see Shane play, grab it, he is never to be missed.
Here he is at the 2015 National Folk Festival.
Boring Tech Stuff:
The Zoom H4n recorded in Stereo @ 44.1kHz/16 bit. It was sitting in a pocket on my messenger bag and just pointed up at the flown PA. We were about 4m back from the stage ( 3rd Row) Right of centre.
The audio recording was cleaned up in Sound Forge.
The pics are by Jools Thatcher