When Lizotte’s Kincumber closed its doors last year, I worried that it may spell the end of great live music on the Central Coast. Thankfully a couple of other venues have taken up the mantle. One of them is Ettalong Diggers, an RSL club conveniently located just down the road from me. Sure, the deep-friend lamb cutlets and chips weren’t a patch on anything Lizotte’s ever served, and the raffle for Dyson fans that accompanied it didn’t great quite the same ambience as the chilled-sounds piped through the Lizotte’s PA. But any venue that can attract big name acts like Reece Mastin has my vote.
I’ve been keen to see Reece live since he released Change Colours, one of my favourite albums of 2015. The allure of his acoustic Down to Earth shows proved difficult to resist, especially when located so close to home.
Reece was ably supported by Alys Ffion, a gorgeous young thing my husband described as a cross between Taylor Swift and Lisa Loeb. I can definitely see where he’s coming from. Her songwriting has that diary-confessional feel of early T-Swift material, but her voice has a little more earthiness and quirk, just like Lisa Loeb. It takes a lot for a solo support act to command a room with just an acoustic guitar by her side, but the crowd seemed to be hanging on her every word. I know we were. She treated us to a generous set of original songs, yet it was so good that it felt over far too soon. Thankfully she was back after the break, providing backup vocals and guitar parts during Reece’s set.
While I couldn’t take my eyes off Alys during her earlier performance, the charismatic Mr Mastin stole focus during his set. He has such a strong voice that reminds me a little of Jimmy Barnes; clearly the time they spent recording this album has been a good influence. There’s also something special about watching an artist who believes so strongly in the music they’re making. He gave it his all, and that passion he has shone through. He was so giving both in his performance and the moments between songs, when he shared tales of time in the studio and the stories behind the songs.
It was telling that despite releasing four top 20 singles from his first two albums, Reece played just two songs from these early days, “Shut Up and Kiss Me” and “Rock Star.” Instead he focused on the new album Change Colours, which suited me just fine. His performances of “For You,” “Stand Up Be Proud,” “Heartache Blues, and the raucous closer “You Gotta Go” were especially strong. Reece also hinted at what’s to come. I wish I recalled the name of a new song he played; it was stunning. He also covered “Muddy Water,” telling us that the music of the original artist Paul Rodgers and his band Free reflects the kind of music he wants to make. As a fan of Free (the only one in the audience apparently!), I was so excited to hear the cover and what an influence this sort of music is for him.
Reece Mastin might have started his career as a fairly lightweight pop act, but his music today has so much more weight. This Ettalong Beach show might have been my first Reece Mastin show, but given what I saw on Sunday night it certainly won’t be my last.
Image source: own photos