Live Review: Kurt Vile & The Violators, Twerps

4 January 2016 | 1:34 pm | Hannah Blackburn

The celebrated US troubadour leaves Melbourne fans hoarse with ebullience at the city's Forum Theatre

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The Forum is packed out early, filled with a sea of people who are eager to see every second of the authentic talent, Kurt Vile. Before he begins, however, Twerps are warmly welcomed, and punch out perfect crisp pop bangers like I Don’t Mind and Back To You. These particular tracks get the crowd moving, and establish a great energy throughout the room.

Without a long delay, Kurt Vile walks out, already playing the opening track Dust Bunnies, and immediately we notice he’s sporting a shirt that says “What’s Up Kooks”, the same one he’s been wearing his whole tour. Next up, Vile swaps his electric guitar for the banjo and perfectly executes his song I’m An Outlaw. This exchange seems to be a theme throughout the show, and when his band leaves for Stand Inside, he is handed his acoustic guitar to intimately sing a love song that leaves the audience in a stunned silence. Another thing to note about Stand Inside is that Vile slyly references folk songs that have come before him, played by such artists as Paul Simon and Bob Dylan, perhaps indicating that there will always be a calling for him to write and draw influence from musicians that have come before him.

Vile shapes his albums in a unique way, managing to seamlessly merge plugged in, classic-rock sounding tunes such as Pretty Pimpin’, with solo acoustic, fingerpicking numbers like All In A Daze Work. His performance delivered the same pattern, and Vile’s songs were well received, whether they were taken from his latest album b’lieve i’m goin down… or from his many other releases over the last decade. This was particularly evident when Vile finished his set with Freak Train, an older song of his that grew louder and louder until Vile swapped his Jaguar for the Martin acoustic and seamlessly transitioned into the closing track off his new album, Wild Imagination.

Vile and the band left the stage and only returned after everyone in the packed out Forum Theatre had cheered and stomped and screamed themselves hoarse. He finished the night standing alone on stage, face hidden behind his long locks of hair, the crowd only occasionally catching glimpses of that wry smile that has come to be a defining feature of the slacker-rock icon. When he struck his last chord, announced, “I’ll see you all out on the street,” and walked off stage, he had the crowd in a daze, leaving them to reacquaint themselves with the world outside the one of his making.

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