On Friday I made the trip to the Annandale Hotel in Sydney to check out one of my favourite acts in the world, Howie Day.
That my country still hasn’t quite latched onto the music of this talented American is both a blessing and a curse. I’d love to see him in a venue that isn’t quite so cramped, and minus the sticky floors. But I can’t complain too much about the $22 cover charge!
An indulgent Italian meal in Leichardt kept me away from the first support act Fairy Light, but I arrived just in time for Sophie Koh. I’d heard good things about this Melbourne singer-songwriter and she didn’t disappoint. She reminded me a lot of Bic Runga, with a sweet voice and compelling folk melodies. That sounds like the formula of so many girls with guitars, but Sophie’s poetic lyrics and intricate music ensure she stays always just that little bit left of centre. Most of us didn’t know her songs, but she kept us enthralled so that by the time she played Radiohead’s “Creep” we were all happy to sing along.
It was nearly 11 by the time Howie took the stage. I must be getting old, because I was fading. I’m used to concerts that finish at 11, not start. But Howie roused me with a set that was perhaps even better than the last time he graced our shores. He seemed more relaxed this time around, willing to joke around with the audience. We were all with him, laughing as he showed us how he could speak backwards and make uncanny bird noises.
Howie often performs with a full band, but he doesn’t need one. Just as his personality is big enough to fill a stage, so is his sound. He exploits technology, creating loops which allow him to play lead guitar, bass guitar, and percussion all at the same time. It’s clever but never gimmicky, just another colour in Howie Day’s box of crayons.
Once his set was done I just about fell over with exhaustion, knowing I still had to make it home to the Central Coast before I could drop. When I returned to Central station at a little after midnight to find the next train wouldn’t leave until 1:45 am, I nearly cried. But would I do it all again to see a show like Howie’s? In a heartbeat!
Image source: own photo