Live Review: Jack Ladder

21 September 2018 | 12:28 pm | Bryget Chrisfield

"The tone is set: songs that will break your heart into smithereens interspersed with fascinating, often side-splittingly funny tales about their genesis."

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Stepping up onto the stage, Jack Ladder opens with I Love Your Mind. We're all immediately captivated. At the conclusion of this song, he states, in trademark deadpan baritone fashion, “The person that song was written for has blocked me on all social media platforms. It wasn’t something I did, though." And so the tone is set: songs that will break your heart into smithereens interspersed with fascinating, often side-splittingly funny tales about their genesis. 

When Ladder's mum (who christened him Timothy Rogers) listened to his first demo, he tells us she asked him, "Are you ok?" We then learn his song 2 Clocks was used in the final episode of Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities, soundtracking some "bad acting" by Matthew Newton, according to Rogers. We soon decide Rogers needs his own radio show with that quick wit and alluring speaking voice. Some amusing twists of fate have littered his 15-plus-year music career to date, such as when Rogers lived in Berlin and his girlfriend at the time asked her friend, a member of TV On The Radio, to critique his album (Love Is Gone). The feedback Rogers received was to add more reverb (which he says he intended to do anyway) and then, he tells, Love Is Gone took out the number one spot on WHO Weekly's end of year poll that year, with a TV On The Radio album awarded the penultimate spot. "It's the small things that get you through," Rogers smirks. 

Moving onto material from his next album, Hurtsville, Rogers recalls living with a woman in New York - as struggling, aspiring artists are prone to do - adding that he actually lived in a cupboard, next to her Jeff Buckley shrine. Giving Up The Giving Up follows, featuring a sterling example of Jack Ladder lyricism: "You can’t put me back in the pack/I’m a match already struck" - genius! Before we have time to recover from this brilliance, we're laughing once again as Rogers informs us he signed a record during his Basement Discs instore today for a baby called Jonquil. As part of this 20 Golden Greats tour, Rogers performs some songs he hasn’t played in ages, including Blinded By Love, which he reveals he's only played live once before (in Brisbane earlier in the month as part of this tour). When a punter hollers for an encore, Rogers hilariously pretends he’s just the support act. Cue brief intermission. 

Act two kicks off with the sublime Come On Back This Way, with Rogers taking both his own and Sharon Van Etten's parts. "Thanks for coming back,” Rogers acknowledges. After informing us that he wrote Beautiful Sound when he was pissed off at Sony, 'cause they owe him money, he asks if there’s anyone from Sony in the house. A punter hollers (they're bluffing). Rogers delivers this song with the appropriate amount of vitriol. Cold Feet, though! Who could ever tire of that plaintive guitar melody? Our hearts hurt. Rogers then ditches the guitar to deliver Blue Mirror hands-free over backing-tape backing and totally pulls it off. 

Feel Brand New is introduced as a song Rogers thought was about reincarnation until people started to tell him it was an excellent end-of-financial-year anthem. While introing a superb cover of Iggy Pop's Shades (for which he dons a pair of safety glasses), Rogers observes Pop has a "beautiful body". A punter yells out, "Take your shirt off!" Rogers quips he’s "a shirt-on artist". Multiple people then holler, "Take your shirt off!" He tells us we wouldn't like him if he did since he looks like Gumby. Rogers handles it well, but, seriously, what is wrong with people!? Stop being heckling creeps at gigs! Respect the artist onstage as you wish to be respected within the crowd.

Rogers coins a new genre, euthanasia disco (aka "eutha-disco") before we all sway along to the lush-but-somehow-menacing Susan. While introducing White Flag in Stockholm and explaining the song is about Stockholm syndrome, Rogers shares the audience members just looked at him, which led him to the conclusion that they probably don’t call it Stockholm syndrome in Stockholm. On tonight's show, Rogers observes, "This is like a feature film that goes a little bit too long," but we're still with him 100%, intrigued. "I don’t wanna do an encore, 'cause I can’t go anywhere," Rogers remarks of the awkward post-set walk through the crowd that performers must negotiate in this room. He observes that his final song this evening has "a Peter Allen feel” and we're left with Dumb Love

During his set, Rogers tells us he’s “in it for the long haul”, career-wise, and we’re so very stoked to hear that. His banter is as intoxicating as that swoon-worthy baritone and we're left baffled (once more) as to why he's not already a household name.