Dan Sultan @ The Thornbury Theatre – 4 Nov ’13

The Back to Basics tour meant exactly that – no band, just a sparse stage with guitars and keys, soon to be filled with the distinctive sounds of Dan Sultan and the accompanying tales to entertain. Using a bit of chatter to settle some nerves, and being told about unfinished songs in a creative lull becoming 35 songs written in six months was a telling introduction to what would form a night of fine music and a taste of what might appear on the upcoming third album next year.

Kicking things off with something a little more familiar, the intensity and added soul of a solo performance of Caroline was quickly shaken up with ‘High Street Riots’, a harder edged blues rock number started 10 years ago and finished only a few days before going into the studio in Nashville. Exposure to new material continued to show true and effortless versatility between lyrical and reflective writing balanced against a gritty rock edge throughout the night.

The night also showcased writing collaborations with the Pauls – firstly, Paul Kelly with the beautiful ‘Lonely Lover’ and later, Paul Dempsey with ‘Mountain Top’ both of which fused distinctive creative styles to create stand out works. Although likening his piano playing to someone calling themselves a magician with only a few card tricks up their sleeves, Dan did a mighty fine job in convincing otherwise for a few songs, including the tender ‘Nobody Knows’ with the prowess of chorus free writing . ‘Time to Run’ has never been on a record despite being written around the time of Homemade Biscuits, but hearing it live makes you wonder why the hell not…a brilliant mix of rock tinged with country and blues.

The name dropping was intertwined with humorous tales from recording the album, songwriting, family support and over exaggerated impersonations of friends and boisterous crowd members from other shows. But reverence was saved for the accompanying tale to ‘Kimberley Calling’, the story of finding his grandmother’s grave together with the sheer magic of the Kimberley made this absolutely spine tingling. After a slowed down version of Your Love is Like a Song, things got shaken up again with a rocking performance of Rattlesnake (a collaboration with Way of the Eagle’s Jan Skubiszewski) and the spine tingles returned with a stunning performance of Nyul Nyul Girl.

The evening wrapped up with Old Fitzroy, but all the new material showcased by this humble and appreciative performer (as well as the new single ‘Under Your Skin’) is showing signs of a cracking good album next year.

What did you miss? Check out the footage from the Saturday night show…

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