Marlon Williams, The Weather Station @ Metro Theatre, May 17th 2018
Five years of hard work, countless hours in airport lounges, nights on friends’ couches and in bars and clubs is paying off big time with Marlon Williams’ current Australian tour sold out in the largest venues he’s headlined to date.
This time around he he’s brought along Canadian band The Weather Station to open the shows and they did a fine job subduing the arriving and chatty audience. Theirs is an understated sound. There are no large musical gestures, songs softly wind and gently drift along yet for the attentive listeners they invest some wonderful detail, shapes and colour, enmeshed in their indie and folk framed songs. The drums blended post rock and jazz into the mix while the guitars and occasional keys fleshed out Tamara Lindeman’s sweet (but not sugary) sounding songs. Her nuanced songwriting may have been lost in the low volume performance but there was still a sense that they gained some new fans in the process.
Marlon Williams has hit adulation street from the sound of the whistles and screams that greeted him as he slunk onstage behind the newly expanded Yarra Benders. Now featuring Drones guitarist Dan Luscombe (one person cheekily requested Shark Fin Blues), the band have more options for adding depth, range and texture to Williams’ songs. After seeing the band perform these songs a few months before Make Way For Love was released, it was fascinating to see how they’ve evolved after six months of touring. Dynamics are more pronounced, drama is heightened and the relaxation that comes with knowing songs inside out was apparent.
As is his wont, Williams included a brace of covers including a wonderful reading of Yoko Ono’s Nobody Sees Me Like You Do and Barry Gibb’s Carried Away. They were fine examples of the way Williams embraces and honours classic songwriting but is always willing to throw in curveballs and find the dark and quirky corners in songs. His own What’s Chasing You, Love Is A Terrible Thing and Make Way For Love were standouts, the latter two showcasing his voice and inducing slack-jawed, wide-eyed responses from the audience. Julia Jacklin made an appearance on Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore before they rounded out the night with Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ Portrait Of A Man that swung from dark voodoo intimacy to hollering blues-rock psychedelia, capping off a consummate performance from the man of the hour… and still on the rise.