Live Review: Dylan Joel, Thando

16 October 2017 | 3:56 pm | Antony Attridge

"The MC is uniquely brilliant, inviting, accessible and indeed comes across like our friend."

Northcote Social Club is an entirely different environment when you're met with a seated audience. The stage is playfully fashioned with unmistakably teenage boy-esque adornment: a Mighty Ducks jersey, posters of MJ, JT, Michael Jordan and Tracy Chapman. There's even a double bed complete with dirty clothes and guitar case at its foot! We have stepped into the room of what we can only imagine replicates that of Dylan Joel.

Thando graces the stage with an elegant and poised manner. Seated centrestage, she treats us to soulful ballads from EP Digital Love Letters and we're absolutely mesmerised. Joined only with a solo guitarist, Thando's range is on-point and as we watch on from our picnic blankets we're reminded that R&B is alive and well in this city of dope beats and emotive lyricism.

Dylan Joel asks us to shuffle in a little closer. The sold-out room is intimate and welcoming as the MC opens with a track narrating his journey thus far. Tales of meeting artists (including the influential Ed Sheeran), industry execs and how his most meaningful epiphany thus far was in learning to trust his own originality. Quick-fire bars and rhythmic guitar riffs have our eyes fixed on a pure talent perhaps momentarily forgotten after the musician's online absence. Joel invites his mother to the stage for a beautiful duet of This Little Light Of Mine narrating a story about his first introduction to music. He continues to preview tracks from his upcoming album, inviting his housemates to the stage as if we're privy to a song's purest conception. As the tongue-twisting Swing verse blows us away, Mantra, who features on this track, nods along proudly from the audience. Joel effortlessly serenades us with acoustic versions of tracks from his debut album Authentic Lemonade.

The setlist perfectly complements the bedroom decor of the stage setting. A cover of Michael Jackson's The Way You Make Me Feel illustrates this artist's unabashed, boundary-pushing approach. From dead silent white noise to beatboxing on his loop pedal AND plucking guitar grooves, this kid can multitask like a MF! He explains the upcoming album (and hopefully tour) is for us, his friends, which is something he wants to continue to share with us personally, face to face and not just in a digital realm. Again accompanied by Thando and his housemates, Joel presents an incredible, stripped-back rendition of his Like A Version, Randy Newman's You've Got A Friend In Me, which has us all singing along regardless of our vocal abilities. Joel finally closes with his latest single Hola, Hola and we are in awe. The MC is uniquely brilliant, inviting, accessible and indeed comes across like our friend. We don't wanna go home, so stay on to meet one of Melbourne's finest talents. Damn, that was incredible!

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter