Northcote Social Club is always a favourite venue for quality gigs and this one was no different.
Opening the evening was Melbourne folk/rock songstress, Taylah Carroll. Donning an entirely white ensemble of high-waisted bellbottom pants paired with a gypsy top, Carroll looked angelic under the stage lights, with a voice to match. With the southern style ring in her notes, almost reminiscent of Middle Kids’ Hannah Joy, Carroll delivered a joyful and engaging set. Though I recommend dropping the duplicated vocal effects for live performances. It was unnecessary and uncomplimentary, however I understand the intent.
The quirky Ash Naylor followed for a sporadic and laid-back half hour performance. From the get go, you could pinpoint Naylor’s influences of Michael Stipe and R.E.M which was solidified with a cover of their ’92 track, ‘Find the River’. He also provided a disjointed version of Blue Oyster Cult classic ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’, shifting between acoustic guitar, electric guitar, cowbell, and a drum and guitar combo (which was quite impressive!). Further, a cover of The Smiths’ ‘Ask’ went down well with the crowd. Naylor closed on an original that verged on a ‘Wish You Were Here’ rip-off with an extended guitar solo as “there’s not enough guitar solos in rock and roll ladies and gentlemen”. Overall Naylor provided an enjoyable set and went on to prove his musical talent as part of Middleton’s band.
It’s a difficult task for any established musician to transition from band member to front man, and very few have done it well. For the former Powderfinger guitarist, the front of stage suits Darren Middleton and his humble mannerisms. Opening with ‘One Thing’ from his debut record, Translations, he was off to a captivating start. He would then be joined by his band for a duo of ‘Tides’ songs, ‘In The End’ and ‘Return’, a welcoming introduction to his third studio album.
Powerhouse Linda Bull joined the band on stage providing accompanying vocals for ‘Just Let Me Go’, ‘Should Have Stayed’ and a track Middleton wrote for his wife Tam, ‘Ghosts and Mirrors’. Now for the section of the night where Powderfinger fans started frothing. The band exit stage left and with his acoustic guitar Middleton launched into a twenty year old song from Internationalist, ‘Over My Head’ and kicked the evening into another gear. Kelly Lane returned to provide soaring violin for a version of the ‘Fingers classic ‘The Metre’, divided by an energetic cover of Split Enz ‘I Got You’. Three more songs from the ‘Tides’ catalogue would follow including ‘Some People’, ‘In Record Time’ and the clear audience favourite, ‘After All’ to close out an impressive show.
Middleton was highly engaging, appreciative of the fans (including post-show meet and greets), and overall a true performer.
When: Friday, 26 October 2018
Where: Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
Supports: Ash Naylor and Taylah Carroll
Reviewed by: Tammy Walters