Don Walker & Jeff Lang, Gold Coast Arts Centre, 12/11/00 - By Julian Porter

 

Let's face it. Neither the populace of the Gold Coast or Brisbane really embraces the concept of going out on a Sunday night. It seems getting a group together for a lunch and some quiet afternoon drinks is a simpler task as the large "Arts Restaurant" is packed by the time a solo Jeff Lang begins at 1.30pm.
Depending on who you talk to, Lang is either a promising up-and-comer or already there. Frankly, the only obstacle in his way presently is how fresh-faced he still seems in a genre like the blues, where performers stick around forever. Technically, he's remarkable, often picking a new tune from the fretboard of his beautiful chrome-bodied guitar while the harsh reverberation of the overdriven strumming prior still hangs in the air.
As exciting as the one-man show is, the real attraction today is the prospect of interplay between Lang & Don Walker, one of a few musicians in our country who could accurately be described as a "living legend". Sure enough, Walker soon joins Lang & his drummer and takes his seat at the black grand piano, looking for all the world like someone's dad or the neighbour of one of the canal-estate crowd at the front, all greying hair & ill-thought jungle-print shirt.
As they trade a fascinating mixture of original songs & blues standards - like old friends sharing stories - Walker's distinctive whiskey-soaked tones are a reminder of his hard living bona fides. His voice is equally suited to sad crooning, like on the gorgeous "Louise" from his collaborative recording with Tex Perkins & Charlie Owen, as it is to the raspy sneer of an old rocker about Jacuzzi (sic) girls looking for love.
Lang wrings tunes ranging from deep swamp blues to an odd surf-guitar trucking song out of his lap-steel, before grabbing an acoustic for "about 27 verses" of Bob Dylan's "Idiot Wind". This song shows of his pleasing voice as does a new one "Everything's Still", an impressively complete advertisement for his forthcoming CD.
At interval, the stars mix freely with families & tattooed bourbon-sippers alike. This must make a change from late nights and smoky bars.
The gig reaches its high point immediately upon our return. While Lang lays down a surreal soundscape on the lap-steel, Walker takes the mike for an enthralling spoken-sung Australian fable of vice and badness about Harry, a "real bad bugger", that Tom Waits would be proud to growl.
The three then combine expertly on a glorious Lang lament about how "Some Memories Never Die". Sweetly discordant guitar squalls and calmer melodies are in turn repeatedly layered over a minimal deep-end piano and thoughtful, simplistic drum-fills.
The mesmeric aural experience created is something unexpected from a Sunday afternoon at the Gold Coast.

Time Off, Wed Nov. 15 2000

 

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