Back You are here: Home Reviews Live Review: Dan Sultan @ The Old Museum, Brisbane 31.10.13

Live Review: Dan Sultan @ The Old Museum, Brisbane 31.10.13

dan sultan

It was a pleasure to spend the evening with Dan Sultan. Full of larrikinisms, odes to broken love, all shared by an underestimated voice that could move grown men to fist pumps and standing ovations, if not physical mountains.

Dan presented himself with modesty and a coy sense of self-confidence as he stood behind his microphone stand, guitar in hand, alone. This is a tour which he designed to shake things up for himself, possibly give him a change of immediate scenery, to force him out from behind is various bands and collaborations to reveal his best work. Also, as became increasingly clear throughout the night, this was his golden opportunity to connect with his audience – a growing, long standing audience of varying demographic – which he did with great ease and comfort, even in the face of the… how shall I put it… “the self-invited audience participant”. Questions from an artist need not always be met with overexcited, over-projected answers, but that’s another story for another time.

The stories that count for now are those which Dan told throughout the night. Elegant and articulate, often witty and sly, yet always endearing. Whether these are the tales of his songs, the background behind each tune, or the simple delights and ironies of life he wanted to share with an audience with whom there was much catching up to do. He has spent time travelling, meeting and greeting, recording, and growing as an artist. His time in Nashville at the revered Blackbird Studios has had an obvious impact, yet it is not unbelievable that he would have found himself quite at home in “the land of the banjo”. 

Dan weaved his way through the older favourites; Caroline from his debut album ‘Homemade Biscuits’ was a beautiful way to set the mood of the evening. Following on from this, a newer track only heard (so far) throughout the tour, entitled A Place To Get Higher has been a work in progress for a decade, and the tenderness of its delivery entirely justifies the progress. By this stage, full house is roaring, privileged to have heard a special side of Sultan, and also entirely enamoured. More stories, more jokes; Dan’s feeling of exposure, of “standing here with my pants down” was not lost on the ladies of the audience, and the wolf whistles became piercing.

Pictures: Dan Sultan live at The Old Museum Brisbane

dan sultan

Dan Sultan Photo: Sarah Paddon

What follows is a series of songs about heartbreak. Love that could never be, or sweethearts turned sour; this seems to be where Sultan thrives, perhaps as his emotions are brought closer to the surface, and are most appreciated under the sole spotlight of an empty stage. She Ain’t Thinkin’ ‘Bout You and Lonely Lover – the latter was penned with the help of the influential Paul Kelly – were both performed with power and intimacy. Time To Run, a tale not committed to any official release as yet, was in the same vein, and steadily wooed the collective female population beyond the point of return. Just as he gave it his all, he took it away; intermission calls, as does “a smoke, a drink, and a comb of my hair”.

The second set was as emotionally transfixed as the first. He opened up, sparse guitar strums, telling the tale of his late grandmother, and how he was the first of his immediate family to visit her burial site. That day was a day of beautiful weather, of soaking up the sunshine and the family duty he adopted, the experience of which he processed through song. Kimberley Calling was the tale of this day, and a beautiful gift to his beloved Loretta. His mastery of solo guitar was truly on show for the latter half of the evening, filling the room with ease, engrossing the audience entirely.

Mountain Top, the work of Sultan with friend and Something For Kate frontrunner Paul Dempsey was not only another heartfelt performance, but provided an opportunity for another cheeky anecdote about the pair’s misadventures. When a song comes a little too easily, the opportunity to fill the remaining day with beers and silly talk cannot be ignored.

Your Love Is Like A Song was perhaps the highlight thus far, with its introductory notes gaining as much of an uproarious applause as its final conclusion, a rare treat as explained by Sultan. After this, and with a sense of rejuvenated confidence, the amp was turned up to capacity for Rattle Snake, a familiar sound on the airwaves, with the help of friend Way Of The Eagle.

dan sultan

Dan Sultan Photo: Sarah Paddon

If there’s one thing that’s to Dan Sultan’s credit, it’s his ability to read his audience. If it’s not by witty quips and well-placed anecdotes, it’s by giving them a tune they’ve secretly hoped for but perhaps weren’t expecting. Dan sat at the piano – not his instrument of choice, but one which he wanted to introduce to the tour – for a truly exquisite rendition of Nyul Nyul Girl. Just stunning.

The evening was brought to a close by way of Old Fitzroy, transporting the audience from deserted plains to the hustle and bustle of suburban Melbourne, reaffirming his knowledge of his audience and the scope of his repertoire. A well-rounded and charismatic performer; it was a pleasure to spend the evening with Dan Sultan.

 

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