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Live Review: Angus Stone, Steve Smyth

23 November 2012 | 2:45 pm | Dominique Wall

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Floral hair garlands decorating long, flowing hair, and general surfer hippy-ness appear to be the order of the day for those in attendance at the Palace tonight. The heavily bearded Steve Smyth takes to the stage with his guitar, accompanied only by a drummer. It's no wonder that he has no other accompaniment – he doesn't need it. His gruff vocals work nicely with the sometimes wild, yet just so perfectly restrained, guitar and drum work. Sadly, a large part of the audience ignores him, but those paying attention are rewarded with a passionate and endearing performance.

If not for the roar that erupts as Angus Stone and his band walk on stage, you could almost miss them since minimal lighting gives no indication that the main act has arrived. In fact, it takes a minute or two after they've started River Love before a faint spotlight shines on Stone. But it is fitting for the song, which, apart from being the opening track to his latest solo album Broken Lights (the first to be released under his own name), is the perfect opener for his set tonight. Stone is as scruffy as ever, complete with his hat and trademark facial hair, and it takes him a couple of songs before he acknowledges his adoring audience, but when he finally does, it's with a warm smile.

In front of a backdrop of painted trees and beautiful lights that resemble stars, Stone's set takes us on a wonderful journey through some touching songs. The highlight comes when at one point early on between songs, seemingly out of nowhere, the quietly spoken Stone looks at the audience and says, “Is someone next to you pissing you off by talking? Turn to them and tell them to shut the fuck up,” before going about his business again. This brings a loud cheer by way of response. Thankfully, those who have been using his set as background music take heed and pipe down, allowing others to fully appreciate what we're all here for. He finishes off his set with Wooden Chair to great effect.

It can be easy to write off Stone as a bit of a limp wrist (musically speaking, of course) – until you see him live. The combination of his songs, his introductory storytelling and his stage presence create something wonderful and proves that there is far more to the man than just what you may hear on radio.

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