Image Courtesy of The Falls
The Falls with Stu Larsen
11th August 2012, The Hellen Rose Schauersberger LabOratorium
Sydney duo The Falls get more than their fair share of column inches on this blog due to the fact that they are so entrenched in the local indie-folk scene and we’re huge fans of their work. So it’s almost expected that we would find ourselves in a wouldn’t-know-it-was-there-if-you-weren’t-looking-for-it converted warehouse in Surry Hills for the Sydney launch of The Falls’ amazing EP Hollywood (reviewed here). The space was decked out in fairy lights, the relatively small stage was strewn with instruments and the crowd, made up of local musicians, industry types, Folk Club regulars and music fans, was at capacity – it was going to be a great night.
Singer-songwriter Stu Larsen, probably best known for his work with Passenger, opened the proceedings with his unique brand of intelligent acoustic songs. Starting with “Seaforth MacKenzie” and moving through his repertoire to finish with our favourite track of his, “This Train”, Larsen’s set was relatively short but absolutely gorgeous as always. There was a weird vibe in the room as he played – the audience was quiet and reverent during his songs but noisy and inattentive between them – but I feel Larsen handled it with grace and professionalism and judging by the amount of attention he received from the audience when he stepped off stage he had more than a few fans in attendance.
I was more than a little worried that the warehouse space of The Hellen Rose Schauersberger LabOratorium, with its exposed concrete walls and high ceiling, would lead to sound problems but I needn’t have – once the place was packed with bodies sound engineer Gareth Stuckey (gigpiglet) managed to get a pitch-perfect sound from the performers. Which was just as well as The Falls, in an effort to recreate their EP live, had filled the stage with a full band including string quartet, keys, drums, bass and a revolving door of guest musicians.
Working their way through each of the EP’s six tracks, plus their standard cover of Tom Waits’ “I Want You” and an unrecorded song as an encore, The Falls reminded us of just how good they are. I’m always a little wary that I have seen these guys so often and I have become a complacent listener – but seeing them in this situation, with a full band and performing to a crowd of their nearest and dearest, I was once again in awe of their music. The songs from Hollywood are just beautifully crafted folk-pop numbers that harken back to another time but still remain contemporary and fresh.
As always my favourite track was “Girl That I Love”, but every track was a gem with the energy on stage almost palpable. The strings were a beautiful addition to each of the songs, in particular “Please”, and the drumming, which I did feel detracted from a couple of tracks on the EP, was perfect in this live environment enhancing each of the songs while maintaining ensuring that the vocals took musical precedence at all times.
By all rights Hollywood should see The Falls propelled into the limelight in Australia and if this live show is anything to go by they have a bright touring future ahead of them. This week will see The Falls (and Stu Larsen) embark on a national tour with Passenger which should open them up to a brand new audience and do wonders for their profile – after the successful launch of their EP we can only wish them the best.
Thursday 16th August – The Hi-Fi, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 17th August – The Hi-Fi, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 22nd August – The Rosemount Hotel, Perth, WA
Thursday 23rd August – Fowlers, Adelaide, SA
Friday 24th August – The Hi-Fi, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 25th August – The Waratah Hotel, Hobart, TAS