Live Review: Julia Stone - Toff In Town

14 June 2012 | 5:18 pm | Bryget Chrisfield

Hers is an unusual voice, sounding innocent and then worldly within the one vocal phrase.

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Upon entering this intimate venue, the heating demands that we remove all beanies, scarves, gloves and jackets. A solo figure is onstage producing sounds you'd swear were coming from a full orchestra. There's an Apple insignia up there, although most of these songs are string-based (incorporating whistling). Albert Salt's presence is strong, his vocal accomplished and quiff much appreciated. You can definitely hear years of formal classical training behind these compositions, but there's also an irresistible poppy bop to lure the listener in. Google Beaumont Child by this intriguing artist and you won't be disappointed.         

Julia Stone's warm-up show in preparation for the launch of her recent solo album By The Horns sold out mega hastily. We wind our way as close to the stage as possible and get sore necks trying to navigate a spy-hole through which to admire her beauty. Stone peeps out at us through a too-long fringe, her long locks crimped in sections and blonde at the ends. She sports an elegant ensemble of black cardi over gorgeous lace overlay dress, cream lace over black slip. Proactiv sales would skyrocket with Stone as spokesperson with that porcelain complexion (though they'd probably need to fudge the before shots). There's no between-song banter until after song three, and Stone admits to being nervous, but as soon as backstories are generously shared extra life is breathed in and we feel connected through her experiences. Stone requests that no one film her while she imparts one song's particularly heartbreaking backstory. When she catches a flashing red light in her periphery, Stone gently scolds a rebellious front-row punter.    

Let's Forget All The Things That We Say, with its forlorn piano chords and percussive stick clicks, is a standout. Stone marvels over the fact that she's only been rehearsing with this ensemble for the past couple of days. The sultry chanteuse puts it out there to the floor for questions, answers a couple (very truthfully) and then jokes, “No more questions”. Her cover of Olivia Newton-John's You're The One That I Want is a crowd favourite and Stone truly puts her stamp on it. Hers is an unusual voice, sounding innocent and then worldly within the one vocal phrase. “I love to do covers, probably 'cause dad was in a covers band,” Stone shares. Continuing down familial ties, she informs us of her brother Angus: “he's doing really well if you were wondering. And he's got a dog.” We are treated to And The Boys from the sibling's catalogue. After Julia Stone asks around for a drink and admits her blood-sugar levels must be low, a glass of lemonade is brought from the bar to the stage. She brightens, holding up her brand new OP-1 Portable Synthesiser, like a game show hostess presenting a possible prize. The title track from Stone's latest set, featuring the repeated chorus lyrics “I believe in love”, is particularly poignant with its fractured guitars. Stone obviously feels deeply and drags us down into her well of pathos. It sure beats us how can she be so unlucky in love, but we are selfishly glad if it leads to more songs like these.