Live Review: Ed Kuepper

21 March 2016 | 3:12 pm | Ross Clelland

"He was a slightly aristocratic whaling boat captain directing a crew of gypsies."

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It's an interesting compare-and-contrast to Ed Kuepper's last set-piece Sydney performance. In the formal surrounds of the City Recital Hall with chamber orchestra and carefully trimmed moustache, he was a slightly aristocratic whaling boat captain directing a crew of gypsies. Here, among Camelot's arty bric-a-brac clutter, a relaxed solo Kuepper sits in basic black T-shirt studying the guitars over his spectacles like a Bavarian tailor deciding on the width of the lapels.

Opening with Confessions Of A Window Cleaner, he plucks self-described 'semi-obscurities' from the various of his now 50-album back catalogue, the music often having the softer intimate spaces of his latest album, the quietly churning Lost Cities. Settling into his work after the venue's smoke alarm tried to become an unlikely rhythm track second song in, songs from Not A Soul Around, an aptly crackling Electrical Storm, to the awkward Cold War discomfort of Horse Under Water — which has become a centrepiece song of late — unfurl and seep through you.

After the wry delivery of an unexpected turn at The Sound Of Music's My Favourite Things (of all things), there's an intermission for the comfort of performer and audience mostly of a certain demographic. He returns, the second half highlighting the frayed beauty of the newest record. Pavane is stately, a distant thing that beckons you. The soundscapes of The Ruins almost seems to have desert colours in his so-individual guitar wringings. The audience are then rewarded with 'the hits': The Way I Made You Feel's uncomfortable domestic romance, and a final Eternally Yours with Kuepper lost in a reverie as the music spirals up and he ponders the fretboard. The maestro calls a halt, but happily hangs around to chat and sign the merch before we scuttle off for the last train home.