Live: Traveller & Fortune @ The Grace Darling – 31/01/14

Armed with the expansive surrounds of the Grace Darling Hotel and an endless lineup of support acts, Traveller & Fortune recently released their I Am Only Snow EP as part of their national tour. Clustered together and cross-legged on the floor, the crowd was privy to an intimate night of folk, rock and indie all squeezed on to the same tiny stage. Reminiscent of a youthful, roots-infused Josh Pyke, Ben Whiting began the evening with a very short set. Each of his songs has a lovely melodic sensibility, Whiting’s voice particularly stunning when floating through falsetto. The bitter strains of ‘The Fallout’, from Whiting’s forthcoming EP, reflected on an ended relationship and the process of moving on. If this (and his earlier material) reflects the standard of his upcoming EP, Ben Whiting will soon be very popular indeed. Born in London but now calling Sydney home, Emma Davis was next. The cute singer-songwriter stood on stage with just her guitar and the sweetness of her lyrics. Her most recent single, ‘Stand Tall’ sounds optimistic, regardless of the self-conscious lyrics. This buoyant hopefulness seems to be symptomatic of Davis’ music as well her stage presence. Keeping everything simple is the key, rewarding both herself and her audience in spades. Moving on from the night’s solo acts, Olivers Army then banded together onstage for a rollicking folk set. Old favourites such as ‘Help Me Find My Way’ were tempered with new, sprawling material like ‘Lonesome Man’. Keyboardist Gina Somfleth said that the first live performance of ‘Son, This Things Gotta Hold On Me’ saw her crying throughout because it was “the saddest song ever”. The raw emotion it evokes is obvious even now, leaving each audience member feeling a little bereft. The current incarnation of Olivers Army was formed just last year, but the group sounded cohesive and tight while still maintaining an air of excitement. Fingers crossed their crowd-funded album goes well, because Olivers Army is a delight to listen to. The Bon Scotts then upped the tempo and the noise at what had been a laid-back event until then. ‘Sad, Sad Song’ is loud and brash rock-folk, while ‘Let’s Do What The Catholics Do’ is a political, body-shaking affair. The Bon Scotts succeeded in bringing the roof down, figuratively and literally; after their set some plaster fell from the roof in the ladies room. No punters were injured, and the sheer musical power of The Bon Scotts was showcased in physical form. After the extended playbill, it was time for Traveller & Fortune to take the stage and showcase their new EP. Formed in 2010 and hailing from Adelaide, the five-piece has filled their I Am Only Snow EP with “big, dark and folky” tunes. Their more recent songs also hold an indie-pop sensibility, which only adds to their repeat-worthiness. The single, ‘Alaska’ sounds lush and dense live, and this layered feeling persists throughout the EP. Unassuming front man Tom West talks little on stage, but his focus on moving, sweet melodies speaks for itself. ‘Letter To Japan’ ruminates on travelling and leaving home (almost the epitome of their name), with a chorus that will stay in your head for days. All of Traveller & Fortune’s building, guitar-driven folk coalesces in new song, ‘Never Climbed A Mountain’, which fills you with warmth as you listen to it unfold. Traveller & Fortune’s understated blend of down-the-line folk and delicate melodies keeps your rapt attention, even after the huge lineup beforehand. It’s a huge testament to the quality of their varied material and their comfortable, unified direction. 4 out of 5 stars Review by Ashleigh McMillan

February 11th 2014
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