Live Review: Ed Kuepper

16 July 2015 | 3:15 pm | Kathy Pollock

"Venture up the steps into Black Bear Lodge and soak up some new, nostalgic, and strangely warming songsmithery."

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Ed Kuepper kicks off his three-week run of residencies across Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne tonight and is set to play two one-hour sets with no supports. The name of the tour is Nostalgia For The New, which seems like an oxymoron until he kicks off and the title has perfect clarity. It’s just Kuepper on stage among the dim lights and stag heads mounted on the walls, playing stripped back and affecting songs. Most of them, particularly in the first half, are as yet unheard, but strike a peculiarly nostalgic chord in the listener’s heart. Kuepper’s legion of die-hard fans sit around him and it’s clear the new songs have been awaited with bated breath by many. 

Even for the uninitiated the music whispers of the past while definitely not clinging to it. During 2013 and 2014 Kuepper played ‘By Request’ gigs, indulging fans with classic favourites, but the fresh material being played tonight is no worse for wear (or for a lack thereof). Kuepper engages in stage banter, telling the audience that, “Being on stage requires a skill most people aren’t aware of. Acting.” He isn’t telling the crowd that he’s putting on a façade, but rather that music is akin to theatre, in that he’s happy to provide a show to remember. It’s clear he’s in his element amongst the crowd of devoted fans. During the mid-set break, some punters brave the brisk cold outside, but most stay sheltered in Black Bear’s cosy confines. 

Without too much ado, Kuepper returns to the stage and begins the second half, which features a smattering of old songs to satisfy the audience. These tracks blend nicely with the new material, nothing sounding jarring or inappropriate. He of course sticks to his solo discography, not venturing into The Saints’ punk past. Kuepper has a massive back catalogue, so there are plenty of gems to choose from and nobody is left wanting. The new tracks are being essentially rehearsed on the tour with the aim of compiling a brand new studio album later this year, and judging by the crowd’s warm and enthusiastic reaction, the release will go down a treat. Tonight’s performance is the first of several, so if you’re wanting to escape from the cold and empty mid-week Valley Mall over the next two weeks, do yourself a favour. Venture up the steps into Black Bear Lodge and soak up some new, nostalgic, and strangely warming songsmithery.