Marlon Williams seems to have made Auckland’s Tuning Fork his second home. Now based in Melbourne, the Kiwi crooner filled the intimate venue just eight months after his previous headlining show.
Last time Marlon was at The Tuning Fork he was aided and abetted by Aldous Harding and Australian songstress Melody Pool. This time around he had his band, The Yarra Benders and Kiwi duo Eb & Sparrow to help out.
Not that he needed any.
After Eb & Sparrow’s opening set, Marlon took the stage alone and immediately entranced the crowd with his high lonesome voice and hauntingly beautiful songs…the first of which was Strange Things in which Williams sings of “strange dreams in the bed where Lucy died”.
He also proved what a fine interpreter of other people’s songs he is with moving renditions of Townes Van Zandt’s Colorado Girl and Jim Reeves’ He’ll Have To Go. You could almost hear the audience swoon as Marlon hit that low, low note.
After the jaunty Cocaine Blues it was time for The Yarra Benders to join in the fun. They are Dan Parsons on pedal steel and electric guitar, Jason Johnson (of Eb & Sparrow) on bass and a gentleman by the name of Gus on drums (sorry, I missed his surname).
It’s true that Marlon sounds fantastic on his own, but when you hear him with a pedal steel guitar behind him, it is magic.
The band struggled through a few technical difficulties during Silent Passage…monitor issues and a reluctant bass amp…but thing quickly came right for Heaven For You, a tune Marlon had recorded with Delaney Davidson as part of their “Sad But True” series.
From there Dan took up his electric guitar and Marlon sang That’s All I Can Remember, a chilling tale of a man on death row in Folsom Prison…”They turned on the juice and I smelled something burning”.
Of course we heard Marlon’s latest single, Dark Child, during which time the band proceeded to rock out in a way that would make Crazy Horse proud.
The pedal steel was back in the mix for The State Hospital…another dark tale of murder and madness and a new song, Everyone’s Got Something To say.
After Johnny Dowd’s First There Was (A Funeral)…”Delaney Davidson is probably singing this in Queenstown at this very moment’, noted Williams…Marlon and the boys closed out the set with a rockin’ The Trouble I’m In.
The encore found Marlon on stage, solo for the stunningly beautiful, When I Was A Young Girl and then the band returned to finish up with a steamy version of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ Portrait Of A Man.
After tonight there can be no doubt that Marlon Williams has established himself as one of New Zealand’s premiere artists…now, where is his first solo album?
Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Michael Flynn:
Marlon Williams set list:
- Strange Things
- Travelling Creature
- Colorado Girl
- He’ll Have To Go
- The Lonely Side Of Her
- Cocaine Blues
- Silent Passage
- Heaven For You
- That’s All I Can Remember
- The Ballad Of Minnie Dean
- Dark Child
- Hello Miss Lonesome
- The State Hospital
- Everyone’s Got Something To Say
- First There Was
- The Trouble I’m In
- When I Was A Young Girl
- Portrait Of A Man
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