Live Review: Ash Grunwald - Metro Theatre

26 June 2012 | 6:54 pm | Alex Hardy

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In the thick of his national Trouble's Door tour, Ash Grunwald had lost none of his energy even after a month on the road. An enthusiastic roar from the crowd met him even before he announced that the gig was to be recorded. Launching straight into a dirty blues groove with Skywriter, he had the room heaving, hips swinging and fans screaming.

After hearing the man's stereotypically ocker speaking voice, it was quite a surprising contrast to hear a rich, vibrato-drenched singing voice come from the same mouth. He switched effortlessly from bluesy growl to gospel belt, all the while pumping a bass drum with one foot, a drum machine with the other and rocking a guitar in some impressive multi-tasking that he somehow made look easy.

The Demon In Me kicked off the start of the audience participation with Grunwald admitting he “is addicted to the singalong.” An old favourite, Mojo, got him playing on his feet and with a backdrop of smoke and lasers, he was a classic rock god silhouette with dreads whipping around his head like Medusa's snakes.

For a one-man band, the sound was big and, in a new direction from his previous albums, incorporated more electronic hip hop-style beats. He kept the tempo changing constantly and indulged each song to a fully extended version. Perhaps it was for the radio listeners, but he seemed to do an extra amount of chatting between songs that sapped a little of the momentum, especially when he took to an acoustic version of Ramblin' Man.

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He began to pick up the energy again with more material from the new album, but abruptly walked off stage in what was the end of the set, but could have easily been mistaken for a toilet break.

The Fingers Malone Ensemble joined Grunwald on stage for an obviously anticipated encore, having also opened the evening in the support slot with his own take on the one-man band act creating live beats with a synth and drum machine and singing/rapping over the top. His music was mainly bass and beats, which was simple yet effective; however reading your own lyrics off a piece of paper is never a good look.

Grunwald and The Fingers Malone Ensemble performed a dubstep-infused track featuring a sample of Skrillex's Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites, which was an interesting twist but well received all the same. As an encore, the pair worked well together.