Live Review: Mark Kozelek

12 June 2012 | 12:01 pm | Brendan Telford

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The warm and cozy confines of the Black Bear Lodge provides the perfect setting for one of modern music's true poets, Sun Kil Moon and Red House Painters' main man Mark Kozelek. Armed only with his trusty nylon-stringed guitar, Kozelek wastes no time in showcasing the breadth of his musical career with a level of intimacy that immerses the small, seated crowd into his multi-storied narratives. The first thing that can be noticed is how amiable Kozelek is, both via his stage banter and through the brace of songs that he has created over the past few years. He is very relaxed, and despite it being his third trip to Brisbane he admits to only leaving the hotel room on this tour (“It's like Taiwan out there, there's actual culture! It's wonderful”). He has truly embraced the classical flamenco way of playing guitar, and his virtuoso playing is a sight to behold. Such beauty is eclipsed by his haunting timbre, echoing beautifully throughout the venue.

Track No 8 off new Sun Kil Moon record Amongst The Leaves is an early highlight, referencing the pitfalls of songwriting that is both amusing and heartwrenching, as well as the stark That Bird Has A Broken Wing and the older Moorestown. This track sparks a diatribe on how his love life as is evidenced throughout his oeuvre has been primarily international, something that American critics find irksome (“Sorry, but I can't always sleep with Americans! Take a look at my schedule – Tokyo, Sweden – I gotta take what I can get…”). Cori Scanlon, the owner of Black Bear Lodge, steps up on stage to duet with Kozelek on The Cars' All Mixed Up, holding her baby whose cooing adds unexpected resonance. Third & Seneca is incredible, whilst Kozelek hunkers over his guitar to deliver Heron Blue, a sparse and truly evocative rendition. It isn't long before an hour has passed; Kozelek goes offstage to return only moments later, launching into Natural Light, and segueing nicely into the elegiac Like The River. He flubs a few lines when beginning his version of Danzig's 13, but manages to gloss over it with self-deprecating humour. Kozelek offers an anecdote whereby there was an issue in one of his previous bands as to who had actually written a particular song (“You have two guys getting hot in an argument over two damn chords!”) before finishing with the very funny UK Blues.