The Veils performed to an enthusiastic crowd at Powerstation last night to celebrate the release of their new album, …And Out Of The Void Came Love, featuring spectacular support by Australian folk singer, Grace Cummings.
What a strange gig this was. Perhaps I’m more accustomed to the collective silence of a movie theatre these days, but I’m always blown away by a crowd that turns up to a gig early and then spends the majority of the time talking at the bar like it’s their local pub.
Perhaps I’m also being too cruel, too judgmental toward other people just enjoying their evening. Maybe this is what gigs have turned into now, nothing more than a different environment from your living room, just to avoid worrying about spilling beer on your carpet for the evening.
I guess none of this would really grind me up so much if the entire gig didn’t feel backward last night, where one singer and a guitar unleashed more creative power and energy during the opening act than the entire group that followed afterward, and where the experience felt perpetually anticlimactic into its final moments.
So let’s talk about Grace Cummings, an Australian folk singer with a voice and lyrical delivery so undeniably impressive that it managed to leap into my chest and tear my heart apart from the opening seconds of her set. Opening with The Look You Gave, There Flies A Seagull, and Here is The Rose, Cummings did her best to maintain performance positivity as the impromptu backing vocals at the bar rose to try and compete with her singular stage presence.
Moving briefly to the piano to perform a cover of The White Stripes’ I’m Lonely followed by Matilda, Cummings finished with Heaven / Pocahontas and the entire performance left me speechless – such raw, emotional power in her delivery matched by her command of the lyrics, seemingly channelling them from the creative ether than delivering a rehearsed performance.
After a brief interlude, The Veils took to the stage to much applause and a polite hush of anticipation, opening with the punchy country-rock beat of Bullfighter (Hand of God) before diving into the surf-rock sound of Undertow. The dreamy, singalong strum of The World of Invisible Things followed, before old favourite Swimming with the Crocodiles energised the crowd for the frantic, wild performance of Here Come the Dead.
Lead singer Finn Andrews addressed the crowd a handful of times with anecdotes about his songwriting history and inspiration, along with announcing the re-issue of Nux Vomica on vinyl and discussing the journey of creating their new album, seven years in the making. Their initial set closed out with a new song, No Limit of Stars, before the peak-energy finale of Nux Vomica saw the crowd settle momentarily for an inevitable encore, comprised of new, quieter material Someday My Love Will Come and Rings of Saturn, before closing out the evening with Jesus for the Jugular.
Afterward I was trying to reflect on the evening and determine exactly where things went wrong, why my usual hardline objectivity seemed thrown into a sea of boredom and dismay less than an hour into this gig – and I settled on a sense of disconnection from what I usually experience when seeing live music.
Usually, there’s a sense of community, of collective appreciation, not just a series of musical snippets and a rhythm of polite applause, all brought together by an overwhelming desire to absorb from the artists on stage for the evening.
Perhaps again, I’m being too cruel, but when you find yourself halfway through a gig feeling disengaged and wishing you were at home listening to the same music on a record player instead, no amount of poetic gesticulation or creatively insightful depth can save it, and feels like a missed opportunity for greatness seven years in the making.
Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Ivan Karczewski
Grace Cummings Setlist
The Look You Gave
There Flies A Seagull
Here is The Rose
I’m Lonely (White Stripes cover)
A Precious Thing
Fly A Kite
Heaven / Pocahontas
The Veils Setlist
Bullfighter (Hand of God)
The World of Invisible Things
Swimming With the Crocodiles
Here Come the Dead
A Birthday Present
Sit Down by the Fire
No Limit of Stars
Someday My Love Will Come
Rings of Saturn
Jesus for the Jugular