Sympathetic Stupid

Thursday, August 25, 2005

New Buffalo @ The Northcote Social Club

I've been looking forward to this for weeks, so a lack-of-sleep headache wasn't going to stop me. I skipped the support and a coupla Panadol got me down to the Northcote Social Club, where it was dark and soothing to my throbbing neurons. I stood in the dark and thought evil thoughts about Triple J kiddies and the couples surrounding me and my head and work and being single and the strange tingling in my left arm and sundry other disappointments.

It all went away when Sally wandered on stage at the stroke of 11pm.

Yeah, it was probably just the Panadol kicking in but it felt like she was healing me, especially when I found an empty couch at the back to stand on, and so had a panoramic view of the stage.

Sally wandered around the middle of the stage, switching between a couple of mikes, one hand usually on the keyboard, occasionally playing guitar, often just clutching the mike. Accompanying were two multi-instrumentalists (one is Rae Howell, the other not sure), playing everything from percussion to keys to vibes to guitar to flugelhorn. And what an evocative instrument that is.

But not as evocative as the main instrument of the band; as I've said before, it's Sally's voice. She didn't sound worn out by the tour, hitting all the notes perfectly, and messing with the tunes just enough to convince the crowd it wasn't a DAT tape.

My highlights were the reorchestration of I've Got You And You've Got Me from the EP that opened the show, and a playful version of Time To Go To Sleep, but hell, they were all good. The band were professional and well-drilled, a couple of small flaws, especially in Rae's ridiculously tricky vibraphone part in Trigger, but hey, it's her track, so she should get it pretty close.

They played exactly an hour, doing every track from the album and the EP. Maybe one old track, I think, which I don't have, and two new tracks? But this was the quickest hour I've seen in a long time; back maybe to Wilco's three hour masterpiece.

She's great, this girl.