Live Review: Bands Of Your Town 2012

7 August 2012 | 10:05 am | Tyler McLoughlan

Designed as a showcase event for the finalists of the annual Grant McLennan Memorial Fellowship, established in 2007 to commemorate the life and music of The Go-Betweens co-founder, this evening's Bands Of Your Town performance has a wonderful celebratory vibe as Grant's sister Sally exclaims: “Welcome to Grant's grant!” Performing alongside Powderfinger's Ian Haug and former Go-Betweens Adele Pickvance and Glenn Thompson, she recalls campfire sing-a-longs with her late brother, variously interpreting her favourites in between performances from the four Queensland finalists which each include their own special McLennan pick.

Kellie Lloyd's selection is Thought That I Was Over You, a beautiful song of longing from McLennan's Jack Frost project with The Church's Steve Kilbey. A veteran of the Brisbane scene with Screamfeeder, Lloyd explains that the revered songwriter once told her to “Never stop playing music”, a sentiment clearly heeded as she displays the alt-pop fruits of her solo work on guitar, Foxes Down A Hole and newbie Paradigm.

The always enigmatic but never shy Edward Guglielmino actually shows some nerves tonight as he sandwiches The Go-Betweens' 1987 song Bye Bye Pride between Mothers, and the haunting sorrow of Healthy as he tries to forget Robert Forster is watching on. The latter particularly emphasises the avant-guarde experimentalist's huge songwriting progress within his new album aptly titled Sunshine State.

With a folk/country twist, Sue Ray's interpretation of Was There Anything I Could Do? is an evening highlight, clearly showing why this Toowoomba native is shortlisted as soon as she lets loose with her strong, emotive vocal. With guitar and harmonica, her own track Lover Evermore is sheer loveliness.

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Sadly there can only be one winner of the $25,000 grant to travel to New York, London or Berlin, and tonight Paul Hannan and Louise O'Reilly, the songwriting partnership of Natural Bridge quartet Laneway, take honours amongst a deserving field. They perform a charming, harmony-filled version of Bachelor Kisses before showcasing the languid western strums of Love Is The Devil from their new record Turn Your Love Up. Another short performance from last year's winner Scott Spark serves to show the success of the fellowship, and the magnificent boost the program gives to songwriters in the memory of Grant McLennan, one of Australia's most loved and important songwriters.