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Words by Tracey Moyle | Music Maven

Photography by Paul Blackburn | wysiwyg.pix


Eskimo Joe have been travelling the country and beyond, entertaining crowds since the late ‘90s and fans of these legendary alt-rockers know it doesn’t matter how many times you see the band you know you’re in for a night of pure entertainment when it comes to an Eskies live show.

But Friday night, fans were in for something completely different. Eskimo Joe have taken off around Australia on an absolutely massive regional tour, hitting some of the country’s most remote towns, taking along their old favourites, and some new, to their adoring fans. Last night, the band played to an intimate crowd at the Logan Entertainment Centre, but this show was different to all the rest. The fans were in for a special treat.

For the first time in their touring history, the band have put together a collection of songs from their massive repertoire to play an intimate acoustic set giving the songs a new life. This dynamic trio have brought a very unique feel to these popular tracks giving fans something no one’s ever heard before. Even us long-term Eskies fans.

Front man, Kav Temperley, is a self-confessed ‘chronic storyteller’. In a recent interview with Good Call Live he spoke about this unique tour – ”when you do acoustic shows, it’s just a gentler experience and you bring people in and it’s a much more intimate thing. Then you tell the stories between the songs and that becomes part of the whole experience and I love that, and we haven’t done a proper tour like that ever.”

Well now they have, and what a night it was.

It was night full of heart felt music and intimate storytelling with another ARIA award winning singer, songwriter, Dan Sultan, opening the night. With two of the countries most celebrated musical talents on stage tonight there was not a single doubt in the room that we were all in for something incredibly special.

The room seemed formal with rows of seats giving more of a live theatre set up, a definite indicator that this was going to be more low key than any other Eskimo Joe show the fans had seen.

There was an excited buzz in the air and it was likely there were many Dan Sultan fans in the crowd. When the humble musician walked on stage he sauntered on without pomp and glamour. Sultan’s music is deeply entrenched in stories of his life. The depth of his music is the result of a journey full of challenges. These challenges have given Sultan the chance to channel his personal growth through his music and the result is raw, vulnerable, sincere, and stunning.

Sultan is an Arrente/Gurindji man and his indigenous roots shine through in his soul shattering vocals. His ability to express emotions through song comes from somewhere deep inside with a strong indication that music is Sultan’s healing tool.

Sultan wrote his self-titled album with Eskimo Joe’s, Joel Quartermain and opened the night with some of these tracks including the mesmerising song, Boats. He joked around with the crowd, talking about working with Quartermain. His vulnerability is a part of the key to his expression through music. His songs are deeply personal and reflective.  He jokes again, “I wrote this next song with nobody. Just myself”, taking us into his acoustic rendition of Walk Through My Dreams, capturing the crowd, exposing his soul like an open wound. Music has a different feel when it’s written through an emotional lens.  He continued sharing his personal journey though heart rendering tales and stories of his life. His music is strongly blues influenced but has a uniquely Australian signature. Sorrowbound and Old Fitzroy likely written as a part of Sultan’s  journey to self-discover. His humour in between tracks had the crowd hooked in with his sincerity and self-awareness. He closed the show with Wait In Love, another deeply introspective track, pulling the crowd in right up to the very last moment. If anyone wasn’t a Dan Sultan fan before the show it’s a pretty safe bet they were now.

The Logan Entertainment Centre, (or LEC as Sultan humorously named it), provided space for the crowd to mingle, get drinks and take a break before the next show.  The crowd was vast in ages from 6 to older than 60. There was a happy social feeling running through the crowd.

Back inside and people were seated ready for the main act and there was definitely a different level of excitement in the room. Seated gigs feel a bit restrictive from my point of view but tonight there was a definite buzz running through the crowd. Sultan had without doubt left everyone with a good vibe and the enthusiasm for the WA rockers was bubbling over.

When the lights went down, front man Kav Temperley walked on stage, approached the mic with his acoustic and took the crowd into an ethereal rendition of Foreign Land; almost unrecognizable, soft and gentle and completely hypnotic. Just Temperley his unique vocals and his guitar.  The band join him on stage. The opener was the perfect indication of what we could expect for the next 90 minutes.

The night was about music and story-telling, the band are casual on stage like they’re playing a party rather than a gig. Joel Quartermain sits to the side of the stage on a small drum kit and guitars surrounding him. Stu McLeod on a small platform the opposite side, surrounded by guitars, with Temperley front and centre. We are taken into the next track with  Quartermanin keeping pace with a kick drum beat while sitting playing his acoustic. Their track Sarah rings out across the room like we’ve never heard it before.

The night is about music, tales and connection and Kav is a master storyteller as we discover as the night unfolds. They share the birth of songs with the fans. Reminiscing on the beginning when they were signed with their breakthrough hit Sweater, the excitement about recording their first album and the panic felt when they were given 2 days to write to more singles for the album or it wouldn’t be released. But they were young, full of enthusiasm and ego and had no doubt they could pull it off. And they did. One of those songs was Planet Earth. They brought us this gem from the past in a way we will likely never hear it again.

Temperley talked about his influences, and how songs were first formed. Older Than You evolved from a Beatles quote about their music being influenced by Roy Orbison but sped up. But tonight, they slowed it right back down again. The song was transformed, with so much heart put into this rendition it felt like a whole new song, almost.

There are many stories about Eskimo Joe and their band rooms. The band are known for their commitment to helping out young musicians with song writing and recording and the band rooms they’ve had wove themselves into the stories Temperley told. The days of working on new music, the work put into getting it up and out to the world, wondering how long you have to wait for that hit. ‘How long do you stare at the sun before you go blind’. This led us into their first major movie track Setting Sun from a movie, that thankfully someone in the crowd remembered the name of, ‘The Last Song’.  The light heartedness and honesty of Kav’s tales had the crowd in laugher. But we weren’t there to hear about a movie, we were there for the music. The best story of the night centred around the bands journey to America when they were young and slightly ignorant to how the music industry actually worked.  The fans and the band were in fits of laughter at this tale of the unfolding disaster, one after the other. This moment in time birthed their hit New York.  If you haven’t got your tickets to this show yet, don’t miss out. The story telling alone is worth the outing let along the amazing transformation of these songs held so deeply in our musical memories.

The songs in their unique forms kept coming along with the stories. A Song Is A City evolving from a late night ABC TV RAGE binge, taking the song out with a small taste of Bill Withers Ain’t No Sunshine. Stu’s new habit of buying thrift shop gifts for the band in each city had the crowd bursting with laughter. The three of them have been friends for a long time and their respect for each other and the fun they have is the key to their longevity. They played their brilliant new track The First Time, a track that bottles up that live festival energy they felt when they were touring back in the day and even now.

The stories and music continued and we were all enthralled. The fact Kav thought Black Fingernails Red Wine may have been a silly song, too silly to release, made me think of near misses.  Imagine if there was an alternate reality where ‘that’ song was never released! Devastating thought isn’t it. Joel joined Stu on his platform and picked up the bass for this one, the crowd singing along to this classic anthem.

The night was almost done with a few more tales and some more epic Eskimo Joe hits. Love Is A Drug and From The Sea took the night out, with the crowd stamping for an encore.  The band returned for a rockier version of the opening track taking us out with Foreign Land, the whole band joining in this time. The perfect bookend to the night.

The best thing about the night in my opinion, was that it was not only about the music and the stories but also the fans. The band knows they are only here because of their fans. When they left the stage they went out to the merch desk and spent almost an hour chatting with fans, asking them to share their Eskimo Joe story and grab a photo or some autographed merch. The night was a heart centred display of the power of music, how songs are born and how they hold a certain power when they tell a personal story. Music is like a time capsule, it can bring back memories. It’s like therapy, helping us understand that we are not alone in our journey. It’s a powerful entity and as long as we have music and musicians like Eskimo Joe and Dan Sultan in the world we will always have a way to heal and find joy in our lives.




Thanks To On The Map PR

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