Eskies soar in bravura show
CONCERT Eskimo Joe with WASO Perth Concert Hall REVIEW BOB GORDAN
Eskimo Joe are these days far beyond those “Fremantle indie kids” of yore and are now elder statesmen of WA contemporary music in many respects. This show, the first of two sell-out performances in their hometown and the beginning of a national orchestra run, brought bona fide fans into the Concert Hall, clearly thrilled to be seeing the band in what is these days a rare performance at any rate, but with the added gravity of a full orchestra to pull at the heartstrings.
It began a little tentatively with the ponderous New York from the 2006 album, Black Fingernails Red Wine, and the decidedly poppier Older Than You, but one thing became immediately clear. Usually the trio of Eskimo Joe are augmented as a five or six-piece outfit, but here the core of Kav Temperley, Stu MacLeod and Joel Quartermain would go through an assortment of instrument swapping (Quartermain often strumming a guitar while keeping time on his bass drum), yet at the same time pull back to bare bones, allowing the orchestra to fully inhabit the songs.
It only makes sense, really, but is not always the reality when rock/pop bands perform with orchestras, when stock-standard band arrangements reign supreme and strings or horns seem merely piled on top. As such, songs like Planet Earth, Sarah, Come Down and Wake Up soared with the arrangements finding new places (and spaces) in the songs and playing to the poignancy already present within. “These arrangements make our world,” noted Temperley, whose emotive voice was especially well showcased and complemented throughout.
While there were moments of high drama in the songs — Black Finger Nails Red Wine and a pared back Foreign Land finally achieved well-deserved levels of drama with an orchestra backing — there were moments that harked back to the indie rock trio playing at the Grosvenor Hotel in 1998, with bopping conductor, Iain Grandage, thrown in the mix. As Temperley noted that Planet Earth had been founded on what was a “bum note”, MacLeod remarked that they’d “been hitting them ever since.” Requests were made for the strangest sounds possible from the bassoon, violin and piccolo, with bathroom-worthy results, Quartermain grinning throughout.
The grand aural presentation, however, was founded on the songs.
So when they’re as poignant as From The Sea, Life Is Better With You and London Bombs in the first place, they’re set to soar in this scenario. Which they certainly did.
A bravura performance on all counts.
The grand aural presentation, was founded on the songs — set to soar in this scenario.
Eskimo Joe soared at Perth Concert Hall with WASO.