Over the last decade, Kurt Vile has been a regular visitor to our shores, even making an album with one of our finest, Courtney Barnett, called Lotta Sea Lice. But tonight's gig was to showcase Kurt's latest album, Watch My Moves. He opened with the intoxicating 'The Palace of OKV In Reverse.'.
I could listen to Kurt's solo rhythms for a lifetime. His tone just vibrates your whole body. Kurt then moved into 'Loading Zones' and 'Backasswards,' both from 'Bottle It In.' 'Backasswards' winds and weaves itself around the crowd's ears, lifting them slightly off the ground and dropping them back down gently at the end of the song. It swelled around the crowd. Kurt's guitar punctuated the song's woozy vibe. Its sun-drenched psych riffs were heavy and soft at the same time.
Kurt laconically introduced a few of the songs, but he didn't really need to talk too much anyway. His guitar was enough. Another new one, 'Flyin (like a fast train),' drew the crowd in closer. Even though I was up the back of the theater, I felt I was on the lip of the stage. That's how mesmeric he was.
Kurt is always known for his engaging and charismatic live performances. He showcased his guitar mastery throughout the set. He has been praised for effortlessly switching between styles and moods during his sets. The band disappeared for a few songs, and Kurt played solo. He played a beautiful version of John Prine's 'How Lucky.' The intimacy of this song was stunning. He continued on the mellow vibe and played 'Say The Word,' another cut from his latest album.
The highlight of the set was gorgeous 'Walkin On A Pretty Day.' Its trance-like riffs earwormed itself through everyone that was there. Like a soundtrack to the best dream you ever had, you try your hardest to keep your eyes closed, but the dream has to end sometime.
He finished the set with another beautiful cut from 'Watch My Moves,' 'Cool Water.' He references Hank Williams, who had a song of the same title. He kept punctuating the song with an elevated 'COOL' which lifted the song just that bit more.
Kurt's gigs are always full of improvised solos. Nothing is ever the exact same as his albums, which makes it all the more engaging.
Kurt Vile is playing a lot of shows while he's in Australia. Try your best to get to at least one. You'll leave a better person for the effort.
Words by Mark Ireland
Photography by Stephen Boxshall