LIVE REVIEW: Marlon Williams & The Yarra Benders, Ben Salter @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney (21/11/15)
With the sold-out sign stuck to the front window of the venue Ben Salter ambled on-stage, unassuming and with that tousled mop of hair. Sans The Gin Club he’s a riveting performer with loop and vocal effect pedals and hitting some passionate yet contained peaks that blended literate and observational lyrics with that rousing romantic voice that traces a link back to 80’s singers like Julian Cope.
Marlon Williams is the golden boy of the moment with his critically acclaimed solo album, sold-out shows across Australia and New Zealand and just last week picking up Best Male and Best New Talent at the NZ Music Awards. After a year or so of playing with a full band he now has the dynamics and pace of their live show mastered. Starting solo with a cover of Reverend Gary Davis’ ‘Cocaine’ he slowly called the band to the stage starting with his partner Aldous Harding who was a beautiful and otherworldly counterpoint to Williams’ voice as they interpreted Stanley Brothers songs back to back. Williams referred to the evening as a journey through the history of roots music – exactly what he does so well. Interpreting song, whether it’s blues, folk, bluegrass, country or rock ’n’ roll, is his forte and he nailed all of them with his humble and humorous stage manner and that voice that is devastatingly good whether it is singing traditional folk or full blooded Screamin’ Jay Hawkins blues-rock. The highlight of the show was his solo rendition of ‘When I Was A Young Girl’ which had the audience in slack-jawed silence as he hit and held notes that raised hairs on the back of necks. We’ve been calling him a star in the making for a while now but the reality is in this part of the world he has already well and truly arrived.