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Live Review: Robert Forster, Siobhan Cotchin

27 September 2019 | 11:48 am | Denis O’Donovan

"[P]unters were treated to four decades of Forster's recorded output."

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Robert Forster - what can you say that's not already been said? Master of all he surveys, from the melodic beauty of The Go-Betweens, to the quirky magnificence of his solo work, to the majesty of his rock journalism and memoir writing, he is always a welcome visitor to our side of the country.

The night began with a striking performance from the young and absurdly talented Siobhan Cotchin. By the end of her set, Cotchin’s tales of romantic intrigue had captured the interest and attention of the older crowd in the room; no mean feat given who was up next.

Robert Forster sauntered on to the stage, displaying the endearing mix of wizened grace and youthful exuberance that is his calling card. Across the night, punters were treated to four decades of Forster's recorded output, beginning with Baby Stones. Every song was played with intensity and purpose and most were introduced with an erudite comment or story. 

Highlights of the main set included the autobiographical Born To A Family, the propulsive Here Comes A City and a delightful take on Spring Rain. Darlinghurst Nights was introduced with a touching memory of early 1980s touring life fuelled by gigantic cappuccinos and the constant hum of Sydney traffic. Forster’s wife Karin Bäumler provided beautiful accompaniment on a range of tracks, from striking violin during a tense The House Jack Kerouac Built to whimsical glockenspiel in Life Has Turned A Page. Songs from the new album Inferno fit beautifully with the older material, especially the gorgeous One Bird In The Sky

A generous, four-song encore followed the main set, completed by a glorious rendition of Surfing Magazines with crowd backing. It's a sign of the man and the quality of his work that one could name a litany of treasures he didn't play. In any case, it was a supreme pleasure to spend an evening in Forster's company.