Live Review: Kurt Vile & The Violators

8 January 2016 | 10:36 am | Matt MacMaster

"This process resulted in some beautiful passages of liquid gold, steady streams of music that flowed on and on."

More Kurt Vile & The Violators More Kurt Vile & The Violators

This was a great show. It was the sort of show you wished were more common: unpredictable, unique and organic. Kurt Vile's approach may seem haphazard, but fans of his impressionistic country/folk/blues/rock/whatever shouldn't be surprised. It was exactly the sort of celebratory event he hints at on record, a freewheeling series of expressions unshackled from the confines of a studio.

There was so much to like! He has hair that would make a young Kirk Hammett weep. His child-like enthusiasm let him wander around solos for ages, focused and aimless at the same time. Familiar riffs got lost or changed, only to pop back up again. Without warning he'd ratchet up the volume, stomping on the pedal, sending fuzzy violence out into the air from an innocuous looking acoustic guitar. The fact he was performing at the Opera House made no difference to his approach, and his shaggy, sunburnt sound remained undiluted by proper sonic etiquette or reverence. It was just another stage, and his loose mannerisms were a joy to watch.

We enjoyed his shy squawks and mumbled thanks. We enjoyed his erratic experimentation. We enjoyed the way he didn't break stride to tune his strings in the middle of a song as his band played on around him. His indefatigable one-note-after-the-other approach seemed pedestrian to some (overheard by this reviewer), but this process resulted in some beautiful passages of liquid gold, steady streams of music that flowed on and on. It never really changed tempo, just density. His acoustic work stripped away all the layers from songs like Pretty Pimpin and Jesus Fever, but there was always the same gentle hail of notes hitting us, with his weird drawl stretching and bending over the top of all of it. As an exercise in texture the show was a triumph. As a thematic vehicle your mileage might vary. His stoner philosophising got a bit lost, but here and there enough lines got through to basically form an image of Kurt Vile standing amidst his life giving a big friendly shrug at everything.

It was a memorable night all about getting lost in the haze, a loud mess of beautiful noise that swallowed everyone and had us rolling around in luxurious fuzzy rawk music.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter