Live Review: Simone Felice, Josh Ritter, Fraser A Gorman

12 July 2012 | 2:25 pm | Clementine Lloyd

Getting started with his concoction of old-west country tunes and Australian charm-of-youth conversation, local boy Fraser A Gorman is both fresh and familiar. Armed with his beautiful, violin-playing accomplice, Gorman could have been lifted from the pages of the Oklahoma! songbook. Accompanying Felice across the waters, American-born acoustic singer Josh Ritter takes the stage. It seems the crowd are here as much for him as for Felice as they join in with Ritter's choruses, laughing along with his easy grace. A national treasure indeed, he warms the stage a treat for the headlining act.

Yes, the king of those who have been dicked around by the American dream, Mr Simone Felice is back, with a fine group of musicians in tow. Backed in this year's tour by three astounding musicians, Felice opens slowly with New York Times sung and played solo in the interim. The narrative tune then coagulates, becoming an all-consuming clot that could make your heart stop. Talking briefly about his daughter, Pearl, before gliding into the dedicated number You & I from his new album, no one can mistake the moisture in his eye. “Now hit it motherfuckers!” Sentiment never lasts long!

The band brings out the best in Felice. His theatrics are sharper as he and Miss Simi Stone, and her epic violin, bounce around the stage like magnets attracting, opposing and complementing each other. The sudden fainting of an elderly gent front and centre attracts the attention of the pair. Their concern is touching as the both appear in the crowd. “He is alright!” shouts Felice as they return to stage accompanied by our cheers and applause.

Next is the duty of paying tribute to the late, great Levon Helm, a mentor to Felice: Turning out the beautiful lyrics, “Levon you never die,” in the heart-thumping Radio Song, you cannot help but celebrate his life. Reaching the all-consuming encore, with audience-supplied choruses and extra long instrumentals, another tribute is paid in the double-barrelled Helpless/Knocking On Heaven's Door, with Ritter returning to the stage to fill out the vocals. It has been eventful, beautiful and bracing. The beguiling singer has captured the city, and he returns the love by stating, “Sydney is cool, but Melbourne is fucking incredible!”

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