Live Review: Kurt Vile

2 March 2017 | 2:31 pm | Scott Aitken

"He yipped and crooned over the lyrics, keeping the dynamics and tension in the song despite the lack of other instrumentation."

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Fans gathered in the Chevron Gardens at Elizabeth Quay for the second night's performance by American singer-songwriter Kurt Vile at the Perth International Arts Festival. With the success of his latest release b'lieve i'm goin down... the 37-year-old indie-folk songsmith has moved to a much slicker sound with songs like Pretty Pimpin that featured his usual backing band The Violators.

This time, however, it was Vile solo — armed with an acoustic guitar, a banjo and a pedal board that he used to loop samples and occasionally add a burst of fuzz-driven overdrive to his guitar. Walking on stage just after 8pm, it was impossible to miss the singer with his long, shaggy hair draped heavily over his face as he picked up his guitar and started into the intricate fingerpicking of Feel My Pain. With his gentle playing and relaxed drawl, Vile kept his performance subdued up until a point he let out a cowboy-like "Woo!" midway through the song, which echoed from the audience in different parts of the venue.

After that he followed on with All In A Daze Work. There was a light echo added to his vocals at certain points so as to sound like he was singing into a well, matching the melancholic feel of the song. He kept the rhythm going on the bass notes of his guitar while adding extra melodies and licks on the top register of his acoustic.

Vile hit a drum machine sample on his pedalboard to start into a faster, more frenetic version of Pretty Pimpin. He yipped and crooned over the lyrics, keeping the dynamics and tension in the song despite the lack of other instrumentation. He abruptly cut the sound of the drum machine at the end of the song, taking a sip of water before saying that he had told the crowd the night before that it was liquid acid, eliciting some laughs from the audience.

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He let out a blistering guitar solo over Best Love before he capped off his performance with Too Hard, only to return shortly after to finish with Dust Bunnies and Peeping Tomboy while the crowd cheered. While some may have been a little disappointed he didn't bring his band, the setting and song selection coupled with Vile's honest, laid-back style and earnest songwriting made it a delight nonetheless.