Everything went wrong for Jack Frost's WA debut. Too few people, too many degrees Celsius and too many furrows in Steve Kilbey's brow combined to make Saturday's Grosvenor gig a near-debacle. If you were there, feel free to kick yourself. Sunday's gig at the Fly was a cracker.
A much bigger and more attentive audience made for a flying start. Evocative wordplay is Kilbey and partner-in-Frost Grant McLennan's common unit, so a tiny amount of concentration goes a long way.
Armed (respectively) with 12-string and six-string acoustic guitars, the pair conjured an evening of intriguing tales from a pleasantly intimate atmosphere.
Simple counterpoints took precedence over fretboard fireworks as the two Dylan disciples took turns at the microphone, tearing down the songs in different directions on their own lyrical paths but sounding amazingly harmonious about it.
As usual, the Fly by Night came through magnificently in the acoustics caper, crisp and sonorous like this astral troubadour stuff ought to be. The bulk of the set came from the pair's 1990 debut, starting with the appropriate sentiments of Didn't Know Where I Was ("the Ramones version") and, concluding with the lullaby-flavoured Civil War Lament.
Early singles Thought That I Was Over You and Providence were highlights but half a dozen Snow Job selections were received equally intently. For good reason: Cousin/Angel, Aviatrix and You Don't Know are as alluring as this Frost fellow gets.
Older and more recent material served as feel-good reminders of Kilbey's and McLennan's other lives. They did justice to The Go-Between's "Bye Bye Pride" on both nights, though McLennan's solo performance of "Right Here" was a treat for Grosvenor punters only.
Dwyer is dead right about the first night being a bit of a strain - it was a really small venue and there was no real entry to the stage - they just entered through this glass door at the side of the room that leads to the street. When it came to the encore, Kilbey was well and truly fed up and went to leave, only he had to go through this door and back in again (in full view of everyone) so he said there wasn't any point going off since "there isn't anywhere to go anyway". After one song, the small crowd yelled for more but Kilbey said "We don't know any more songs" and he ran off. Grant was left standing there to fend for himself while the small (did I say small? I meant it...) crowd yelled for more, so he played Right Here.
Since hearing him live, I naturally had to aquire more of his work for myself, I think he is *really* cool. You know how when some people collaborate, you wonder if the other person isn't carrying them a bit? Well, since seeing him for myself I've decided I've been missing out on something special...!!!!
They tried the anecdotal stories during this gig, but I couldn't hear them talking, only singing and I think other people must have been in the same boat since the story telling fell flat and they gave it up.
The weather was really hot and sticky, it had been a hot day and we were waiting for the rain (came late that night, so the next gig was heaps cooler) which may have increased any consternation felt that night? Maybe that was part of it, as well as a small and generally motionless, often unenthusiastic crowd. You know how people get crammed into small spaces with lots of light, they don't want to draw attention to themselves in case they look stupid? THAT kind of venue....