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Live Review: Ariel Pink

28 November 2017 | 5:00 pm | Craig English

"Some of the audience made their way out of the venue mid-set, looking confused and as though set upon by some sort of bizarre musical cult."

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Ariel Pink is by no means an artist to cut your teeth on in terms of experiencing live music.

He's barely a singer and refuses to think himself a musician, but he makes up for this in spades as the quirkiest entertainer you're likely to see this side of Samuel Herring. That's not to suggest that you shouldn't familiarise yourself with his material before you see him and his merry band of misfits live, however, because you'll be dead in the water if you don't.

Many artists are able to show their fans a different perspective to their music when they offer it live - notably Bon Iver's 22, A Million or Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds' Skeleton Tree - but this is by no means the case with Pink. Rendered live, and even in as sonically favourable a venue as Rosemount Hotel, his music remains as conceptually elusive and enigmatic as it does on record. That said, it's still fun!

Lipstick, lifted from 2014's Pom Pom, was as good a song as any to bring Pink and band to life, but it became perfectly clear as White Freckles immediately followed that the evening was going to be unhinged and not all that easy to keep up with - some of the audience made their way out of the venue mid-set, looking confused and as though set upon by some sort of bizarre musical cult.

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Time To Meet Your God was the first offering from this year's Dedicated To Bobby Jameson and, including the brilliant title track, most of the cuts from this album were given the 'berserker' treatment live. The onstage energy was frenetic and unpredictable, and Pink displayed what could be described as an interesting vocal range. It might be a stretch to call what he does 'singing', but he impressively alternated between childlike chanting and, at times, wailing with the desperation of someone on death row pleading for 11th-hour clemency.

His bent charisma too often distracted from the fact that his band were a fantastically tight unit, and kept up with every loopy twist and turn in several of the irregularly timed songs in Pink's repertoire. They honestly didn't miss a beat and after a few hearty cries for one more song, an equilibrium of sorts was found with Bubblegum Dreams, flushing away the insanity of the evening and leaving the battered crowd on a hook-laden, happy note.