Live Review: Little Bastard, The Family Jordan - Black Bear Lodge

16 July 2014 | 12:31 pm | Sam Fisher

Little Bastard show they are the real deal at Black Bear Lodge.

Nascent Brisbane sextet The Family Jordan don’t dress to dim any cult associations dredged up by their moniker, donning vaguely matching attire (all six sporting white tops). Frontman Jordan Rochfort is clad entirely in white and does his best to channel Gram Parsons, replete with white cowboy hat and nearly replicating the infamous nudie suit, and as they kick off with Red Light his voice proves deep and sonorous and perfectly suited to the ensemble’s dark cosmic country.

Vocalist Anna Clifford adds light to the shadows, the songs laidback but considered with predominantly ambitious arrangements – particularly a strange, languid narrative that’s maybe titled Greatest Hits, dealing with snakeskin neckties and flooded supermarkets – and they finish an intriguing set with the dusty Sparkling Corn.

The Black Bear Lodge stage is just about large enough to stable Sydney seven-piece country-punks Little Bastard and their array of trad instrumentation, and it’s just as packed on the floor in front of them as they kick into the launch of their eponymous debut long-player with the panache and enthusiasm for which they’re rapidly becoming renowned. It’s an unstable proposition at the best of times – roles and instruments being swapped at the slightest provocation – but Johnny Took takes the reins to get things rolling, bringing the party from the get-go with the upbeat and infectious High For You which gets the crowd involved early.

Next up Matty Took offers the vaguely nihilistic Good Explosions and the stellar Frosty (usually performed with his other band Callithump), before Dan D’Arcy steps up for a rendition of old bluegrass fave Little Maggie which drags Ed Rowe’s fiddle firmly to the forefront.

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Little Bastard’s unique configuration and musical approach usually dominates discussion, but it’s actually their resolutely strong songwriting that makes them such a powerful act, Ross Tipper bringing the pop-country hybrid Baby I’m Bored to the table before D’Arcy offers the gorgeous Desert Roller which moves and fluctuates atop great harmonica flourishes. The way their numerous voices lazily mesh together is captivating and there’s always so much to look at onstage, the gently lilting Crosses On The Highway segueing into the upbeat but cruisy Bodies In The Water.

D’Arcy steps up again to give The Beatles’ The Night Before a reverential country treatment, before Johnny Took throws in the pop perfection of single Be My Kind and they finish a stirring set with the exquisite harmonies and merriment of Just Won’t Do and the firebrand hoedown joy of I Just Want You Home. This tightknit group offers a fresh take on the country oeuvre, their powerful songs being delivered in a refreshingly fun manner: make no mistake, Little Bastard are the real deal and hopefully these are just the initial steps of a long and fruitful journey.