Live Review: Robert Forster, Jen Cloher, The Thin White Ukes

30 November 2015 | 2:52 pm | Guido Farnell

"After all these years, Robert Forster still brings all the things that made The Go-Betweens so memorable."

More Robert Forster More Robert Forster

The recent David Bowie Is... exhibition unleashed an unashamedly nostalgic Bowiemania about town. It's also where Robert Forster met delightful outfit The Thin White Ukes when he was giving a talk about Bowie's hair, presumably referring only to the seemingly endless parade of hairstyles Bowie sported. The Thin White Ukes are a delightful trio of ukulele players who specialise in Bowie covers, which are at once reverent but underscored by a cheeky sense of humour. They charm the crowd with a handful of well-known Bowie songs and leave us wishing they could play many more of Bowie's hits. Fingers crossed a faithful recreation of the Glass Spider Tour on their beloved ukes is not too far away.

A stalwart in the local music scene, Jen Cloher goes it solo to deal a handful of songs from her albums. Without the assistance of her band the driving rock arrangements are pared back to the gentle strum of her guitar. Cloher always presents an easy relaxed confidence and down to earth attitude. Cloher's lyrics are drawn from experience and as she sings her words seem filled with emotion and meaning that feels absolutely genuine. 

Robert Forster is back in town to celebrate the release of his sixth solo album (and first in seven years), Songs To Play. Way back in the '80s, it was the jangly pop of The Go-Betweens that appealed to fans of finely crafted indie tunes. After all these years, Robert Forster still brings all the things that made The Go-Betweens so memorable. The post-punk and new-wave angles and attitude, sweet melodies, lyrical depth and the sweetest of hooks are all still there and emblazoned across the songs from Forster's new album. Playing with an impossibly tight band, Learn To Burn kicks off sounding a little like vintage Talking Heads but with a distinctly Aussie twist. Aging gracefully and looking dapper in a dark blue suit, Forster does not play at being a rock star. Rather he applies his dry wit to have some fun at their expense. He suggests that Songwriters On The Run is about two songwriters called Tex and Tim who break out of jail and escape to the top of a hill where they sing songs, because that's all they know, while the police are busy trying to hunt them down. It feels like a magic realist novelty song that has the crowd quietly wondering what Forster is getting at. Similarly I Love Myself And I Always Have initially feels like a gratuitous ego stroker that evolves into a showstopper full of head-held-high pride and dignity. The crowd goes crazy for Go-Betweens tunes but it's the beachy Puberty Blues vibes of Surfing Magazines which has everyone singing along at the end of the night.