When Julia first took the stage, it was a little strange to see her there without her brother – Angus, ‘a bit of legend’ as Julia described him during the show. But nevertheless she seemed confident and had surrounded herself with an impressive group of musicians who would support her the whole night through.
The band consisted of a couple Aussies and a couple of New Yorkers, now how could you go wrong with that? Not to mention one of the Aussies was none other than Mr Ross Irwin of The Cat Empire – a Melbourne band who have been blowing away Dutch audiences with their live show at least once a year at the Paradiso as long as we have lived here. And who will be back again in December, for anything who has not experienced the live sensation that is. Ross is normally part of the Empire Brass section, so it was great to see him down on piano and backing vocals. And of course there were a couple of great trumpet parts thrown in for good measure!
How would you describe Julia Stone to someone who had never heard about or seen her? In one word, whimsical.
Think Zooey Deschanel meets Kate Bush meets Florence Welsh meets meets Pattie Smith. All of these women have it, all of them captivate you. It is strange, you might not love their sound, but you can’t help but feel intrigued by it. Ok, she does dance a little like Joe Cocker, but with slightly more star hands then fingers gripping. And no it is not this that you are taken by, it is her whimsical voice and her extremely cute and quirky nature that you can’t help love, it makes you want more.
And she is able to pull this off both whilst singing and in between songs. At time she has herself, her band and the whole audience in stitches as she tells stories about how songs came about, or how her Mum asked her to play the Wedding Song at her wedding last year. And that it kind of freaked her out singing about making babies on the beach under the star dust.
Another part of the show that was both impressive and please was the song selection. You never quite know what you will get at the first solo show of someone coming from a band that you love, but the whole crowd was very happy to hear a couple of songs that she had recorded with her brother.
She also through in a couple of covers, one from Grease (think Olivia Newton-John – You’re the One that I Want), and also a cover My Girl (Otis Redding). This version was the first song of the encore, and we were told it was their first public performance of it, after the band had been practicing on the bus. It was a pretty funny rendition, with some great dance moves – see the video below.
Also there were the more personal numbers, the ones that she wrote for a guy who she didn’t realize had a girlfriend, or the one that she wrote for a guy that is an absolute asshole (my words not hers). This really affected her hugely, she really focused on pain and hatred when she wrote this song, it was super impressive. And above all that, she sings about the fact that love will prevail, above all other things, she is angelic and innocent but thats just an appearance, I am sure that is not what she is like all the time.
She also did a great version of Santa Monica Dream, with Paul Thomas Saunders, the evenings opening act:
Throughout the course of the evening Julia used an array of acoustic and electric guitars, as well as just sang on a couple of songs. The guitars were not the only thing that caught your eyes, there were also her shoes. Julia stood before us like an Australian version of Dorothy from the Wizard of OZ. Ok, they were not Ruby in color, but they were very sparkly and they very much fit the bill.
So, I really enjoyed last time I saw here and her brother play in Amsterdam, and I think that this time may have just edge in front, in fact, I really enjoy watching her more.
But it was not until the last song of the evening that Julia tempted us for one last time. Towards the end of the song she really let go, and this whimsical songstress went from singing beautiful melodies into really giving it her all, and it was right then that you could see that she has it in her. Okay, so it is hard to see here as the next St Vincent, but she really has the ability to do it if that takes her fancy. And isn’t that an amazing thing to have up your sleeve, not only have you entertained a whole lot of people for a number of years but you now have another string to your bow, you can, when the time is right, unleash the next part of you soul.
And when this sort of thing happens, what does it mean really? Well it means I will be back to see her again next time she crosses these shores.
JV & JP.