Live Review: dirty three palace vic

1 April 2012 | 8:59 am | Staff Writer

More Dirty Three More Dirty Three

For a second it feels like it's all going to end at this moment. Warren Ellis has stopped playing and stands, floodlit, his back to the crowd in a Jesus Christ pose, his violin dangling from one hand, his bow from the other. The music has stopped entirely. But then the crowd starts stomping; triggering Dirty Three back into a whirling dervish of sound. Mick Turner and Jim White are the bedrocks to Ellis' fiddle inferno, and the song throbs to a crescendo over minutes, summing up exactly what Dirty Three are about.

Appropriately enough after the deluge brought by the afternoon, the band begin with The Rain Song, the first of a trio of tracks they play from the most recent record, Toward The Low Sun. The song starts wistfully and swirls into a hectic storm, making clear Dirty Three have a distinctly Melburnian musical take on weather.  Sometimes I Forget You've Gone is next, which gives the brilliant White time to shine. This is a drummer's song, and there is true grief expressed in its sound. Ellis' explanation of this song is the most sensible and simple of the night: “This is a song about a great friend,” he says. “Someone you always write letters to.” But Ellis's tripped-out banter is renowned and, in contrast, he explains that the next track The Pier is about Gina Reinhardt going to a 'save the world' concert and meeting Bono, whom she marries and opens a vegan shop in Bacchus Marsh with. Ellis is nothing if not topical. His legs kick, his hair floats, he is everything everyone always says about him. And Turner and White are the incredible terra firma to Ellis' manic energy that never lets up over the two-and-a-half hours the band play for. They play Moon On The Land, also from Toward The Low Sun, and then Some Summers They Drop Like Flys, and there are whole oceans in the sounds of Ellis' playing.

Even with such an enormous crowd – the Palace is sold out tonight – it's clear Ellis wants to connect. He constantly calls responses out to people who yell to him from the pit. There is an almost evangelical affection in the room for this band. A couple of songs from '98's Ocean Songs particularly resonate with the crowd and when Ellis introduces The Restless Waves it's clear that Bono, Gina Reinhardt and pies are still on his mind: “When you realise you have no superannuation and you go to Port Macquarie with pseudoephedrine in a suitcase accompanied by Phil from Grinspoon, and you make psychedelic stuff with tinned peaches in a Tarago and then decide to sell it beside a pie shop next to Bunnings, but change your mind and eat it yourself and then make a bizarre love triangle with Bono and Gina – this song is about that,” says Ellis to a massive cheer from the crowd as they launch into The Restless Waves. This segues into another sonic meditation that climaxes in a whirlwind crescendo, during which Ellis chucks his bow down, applauds the audience and announces that that moment will keep him going for another 20 years. Everything Is Fucked is clearly a crowd favourite and Authentic Celestial Music is a deeply Dirty Three psychedelic trip.

Around midnight, after having played for an hour and a half, Ellis checks for the time. Someone backstage says they can play for however long they want. “Let's see who's the last man standing,” says Ellis, and they continue. It's a heaving, sweaty, psyched-out, happy crowd that eventually drifts out of the Palace.

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