Live Review: Gregory Alan Isakov @ Factory Theatre, Sydney

2 February 2024 | 4:57 pm | Jessie Lynch

On a balmy evening in Sydney’s inner west, undeterred fans of indie-folk rocker Gregory Alan Isakov gathered at The Factory Theatre for the highly anticipated sold-out show

Gregory Alan Isakov

Gregory Alan Isakov ( Rebecca Caridad)

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On a balmy evening in Sydney’s inner west, undeterred fans of indie-folk rocker Gregory Alan Isakov gathered at The Factory Theatre on Thursday (February 1) for the highly anticipated sold-out show.

The temperature may have been hot, but the anticipation in the air was even hotter as the crowd went from hushed stillness to an eruption of cheers as Isakov and his band hit the stage, kicking off the set with Before the Sun and Southern Star.

Isakov, genuinely touched by the overwhelming turnout, expressed his gratitude, acknowledging the distance they had travelled from the snowy mountains of Colorado.

"We are blown away by how you all come out to see us even though we’re from the other side of the world," he told the crowd ahead of the soulful indie folk performance that unfolded in two distinct halves.

The setlist, a carefully curated mix of Isakov's signature tracks — including crowd favourites Big Black Car and All Shades Of Blue unfolded seamlessly, with moments of serenity and intensity blending effortlessly.

But it wasn’t just Isakov’s distinctive voice that had the crowd entranced, the band, consisting of a violinist, double bass player, banjo player, keyboardist, and drummer — also showcased their prowess throughout the engaging set while bantering with one another, much to the crowd’s delight. Often, Isakov affectionately referred to them as his “best friends”.

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The first half featured what Isakov described as the "sad" songs, drawing from his 2023 album, Appaloosa Bones, as well as delving into classics like This Empty Northern Hemisphere and Amsterdam.

During the second act, in one particularly poignant moment, Isakov and banjo player Steve Varney took the spotlight, engaging in a mesmerising duet of 2007’s The Stable Song.

The latter part of the show at the intimate venue culminated in a spectacular moment during which a single microphone took centre stage as the entire band gathered around. With perfect harmonies and simple interplay between banjo and nylon-stringed acoustic guitar, Isakov and his band delivered a stunning performance that left the audience in awe.

Amidst the four-part harmonies, each musician took their turn at the mic, receiving rapturous applause from the crowd.

“You guys have been the greatest, thank you so much,” Isakov earnestly told the adoring crowd, to which a voice screamed in reply, “We love you, Gregory.”