Not much happens on a Tuesday night, particularly in the middle of Melbourne winter. Sure, you’ve got the upwardly mobiles, the vacuuites I like to call them, hanging around Glenferrie Road’s assortment of trash-houses and whore-dens, as well as tight arse Tuesday at the flicks.
But quality-wise, pickings are generally pretty thin.
Waiting under the clocks, I remember why winter is my favourite time of year, and it’s not because I’m a wet, mopey bastard. With a thin scattering of populace drifting gently around the hub, much like the silky drizzle which envelops them, you can hear the individual stories just a little bit clearer.
On to Manchester Lane, past the homeless artists, faceless amongst the service industries of the post-industrial landscape. We approach the ominous wooden doors of the venue’s lifeless exterior, ears pressed, wondering if we are too early. Evidently not. The warm room is already entrenched in its post-dinner glow, and two people on the stage look ready to begin.
The lass in question is Emily Ullman, enveloped in the appropriate urban bohemia, her diminutive figure betraying a powerful, emotive voice. The three-wines chatter battles against Ullman’s gentle, thoughtful acoustica, until around four songs in. It’s that point in the set where the crowd, having unconsciously taken in the performance throughout the nodes of conversation, decide whether to pay attention or not.
Ullman’s aural spell seems to have taken hold, with the room falling eerily silent, their attention fixed upon the sweet minstrel and her beautiful bard. A collection of old and new, storytelling, travel writing, I think I hear the word enchanting.
In between sets, we spy Augie March, and more importantly, the vacated table in their vicinity. This is a good night. Enough ale, time for a goblet of red. Marcus Teague, frontman of Deloris and one of this city’s finest songwriters, seems to have immersed himself in the world of acoustic introspection.
Showcasing the Elastic Bones EP, and accompanied by cello, violin, keys, organ and accordion, the subtleties are allowed to shine, from the clever turns of phrase to the voices of individual notes. The music seems to lend itself to this medium, also allowing Teague’s dry, endearing humour to shine between songs.
It’s the lack of pretension, the wonderful honesty, the endearing undermining of the ego that makes these artists special. Every city, every community has it’s own folk tales – this is folk music filtered through the prism of the modern condition.
Back out in to the gentle drizzle, thoughts of our old friend Exford automatically spring to mind, like some sort of Microsoft pop-up icon. The streets are wet and deserted, the scene looking north up Swanston shows a city in hibernation. The Exford welcomes us like a gruff, odorous uncle, the kind you’re glad you only have to see on certain occasions, but are always happy to share a beer with.
So, after one last ale, mid-nineties rock and Adam Gilchrist, and with delusions of getting the last train having expired about an hour prior, it’s the cab ride home.
A lovely man from Ankara. Who taught himself English by listening to the BBC World Service. Who has an Economics Degree. Who plays (very well, apparently) a kind of Turkish guitar called the Rush. And who just wishes everyone would slow down.