Whilst the ranks of crooners and soulful jammers in Australia are strong as ever, few have as distinctive vocals and styles as the three artists that took to The Rosemount on Saturday night. The headline of the bill was Dustin Tebbutt, but he gave ample exposure to the talented Caitlin Parks and Jesse Davidson, on what was the last show of a five-date national tour supporting his new mini-release Home.
Parks was first cab off the rank and provided a short yet charming set before later joining Tebbutt in the night for a lustrous feature of his recent hit ‘Silk’. Jesse Davidson came up a bit short, showing flashes of his prodigious talent in a patchy set. Swapping the beat-pad that normally underline his slinky grooves for acoustic guitar was unsettling to him; apologising numerous times for his lack of skill with the guitar (which most pundits huddling around the bar wouldn’t have noticed an errant strum anyway). His smoky vocals were scintillating throughout, with emphatic covers of Elvis and The Pixies lighting up the room as much as any other moment in the night.
Tebbutt then took to the stage with an inventive take on the three-piece, with a drummer and keyboardist/second guitarist. The presence of the band up-scaled his studio versions, which came as a surprise to those expecting a mellow and intimate performance – especially after Jesse Davidson. Tebbutt struck the ultimate balance though, not sacrificing the husky intimacy of his vocals to the brandishing live sound – this remained silky over the hollow moments of the production and with conviction as the band flourished.
The degree of multi-instrumentalism was both impressive and ambitious. Tebbutt and his support guitarist worked a plethora of pedals on the floor as well as having two beat-pads around him as he sung and played guitar. Between songs he was frenetically swapping as he was explaining his writing processes on various tracks. It was the mark of a truly seasoned performer.
‘Wolves are Waiting’ emerged from an echoed abyss with strained tones, drawing a lot of similarities to a Sigur Rós atmosphere, before Tebbutt provided the masterstroke of the night bringing the ballad to a climactic build-up. A percussive break, far more shattering than its’ studio version filled the room and left everyone in the room completely transfixed. Apart from this groundswell it was an evenly relaxed room for most of the evening. Part of the audience was actively engaged with the performance while many others only had a vague sense there was a gig as they leaned on the bar having loud conversations and clinking glasses.
As they filed out, Tebbutt put the finishing touch on the night, and stood at the bar- herding a bunch of fans waiting to buy him a drink as he basked in the end of tour bliss.