I can’t believe it took me so long to finally see Angus and Julia Stone. I have been a big fan of their music for many, many years and they are one of those bands that I have always managed to miss. But this time round, I wasn’t going to make the same mistake again. Especially, after all the rave reviews I have heard from friends over the last eight years.
Tonight they played the gorgeous Palais Theatre in St Kilda. Having lived in Melbourne for the last five years, I must also ashamedly admit, I had also failed to visit the Palais. Again, it was one of those things I knew I had to do, but hadn’t yet got around to. So on a personal note, this was an exciting evening for myself.
Shortly after taking my seat in the second row, it wasn’t long until I was forced to do the walk of shame to the back half of the room to the stalls area. I sadly misread my ticket and found myself further back than anticipated. But I was more embarrassed than disappointed. The usher kept saying to me ‘that must be disappointing’, to which i just wanted to say ‘just hurry the hell up and get me to my seat, I feel utterly stupid right now’. There was no need to complain though, I still had great centre seats with a clear view.
After that slight mishap, Angus and Julia Stone took to the stage and put on a beautiful performance. Although being a duo, Julia really shined and owned the stage. Her presence was graceful and effortless. She took charge of the on-stage banter and interacted with the crowd more than Angus. Angus was shy and reserved and let his sister shine throughout the whole performance. While on the duo’s records you can recognise Julia’s talent as a vocalist, with her strength and expansive range, when she sing live she exceeds all expectations. Her control is effortless and her ability to sing in a whisper with such control is stunning.
But her vocals isn’t her only talent, she can kick arse on the trumpet as well. Who would of known, but I guess it makes sense with the strength behind her vocals and breathing technique. During the performance, she asked two Melbourne friends to join her on stage to play a song featuring three trumpets which was something unique and special. Angus on the other hand shined playing the lap steel, and who doesn’t love a band that also includes a banjo on stage? The range of instruments on stage provided clarity as to why this duo have a unique and interesting sound that Australia has fallen in love with.
The performance included a balanced combination of old songs including “Santa Monica Dream” and “For You”, and new tracks from their new self-titled album. It was a setlist that covered all my favourites, except maybe “Big Jet Plane” but the setlist was more solemn and reflective than the attitude of “Big Jet Plane”, so I was content not hearing it. Julia also managed to squeeze a short fun cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”.
One and a half hours later after experiencing a performance that was elegant, gracious and delightful, I left the Palais with a full heart and a big smile across my face. I’m so glad these two came back together to create another record after their solo efforts. While separately, they are each a talent in their own right and have their unique sounds and musical influence, it’s evident that their solo projects have helped them grow as musicians and have enhanced their quality and musical integrity as a duo.