Mark Seymour Live: 21 November 2009
A review of Mark Seymour live at the Norwood Hotel in Adelaide.
Author: Steve Evans, The Independent Weekly.
Date: 23 November 2009.
Live review: Mark Seymour Trio, Norwood Hotel
After the heat and then the rain, Adelaide produced a beautiful mild November evening in which to sit back and enjoy Mark Seymour’s trio at the Norwood Hotel.
Seventeen tracks compassed the Hunters & Collectors years as well as highlights of Seymour’s subsequent solo career. The songs are real heart-on-sleeve material, demonstrating both the strengths and weaknesses of his writing, all carried with a strong melody.
Opening with the anthemic peace song “Jerusalem”, the trio immediately showed it had a big sound. Cameron McKenzie’s crisp guitar lines, a feature of the night, were particularly tasty on the sermonising “When the River Runs Dry”, but even strong playing couldn’t disguise the maudlin lyric of “Walk Through Fire”. Seymour salvaged things with “The Ghost of Vainglory”, which he dressed with fine voice and which showed off some lovely band harmonies.
There were other ups and downs. “The Master of Spin” was too didactic – a blunt and critical song in the vein of Paul Simon’s “Richard Cory”, which Seymour has covered, it is far too unsubtle. But then “Holy Grail” gave us a killer tune with a monster lyric that sweeps up the listener. Triggered, Seymour says, by reading Jeanette Winterson, it built with real grandeur and prickled the back of the neck. And some of that feeling continued with “Fire in a Country Town”, a song about the Marysville fires and the mournful sound of a siren. John Saffrin provided a steady bass that made it look too easy.
Seymour paints clear pictures of places and, like Paul Kelly, people in strained domestic situations. The latter songs often appeal to the emotions, such as the solemn “Tears of Joy”, “You Don’t Make Me Feel Like I’m a Woman Any More”, which was a supercharged and gritty performance this night, or the country ache of “Burn Your Little Bridges” (co-penned with Angie Hart). At other times it is more of a folk music angle, in both lyrics and delivery, that reflects concern for the plight of the individual, such as the barrelling “When the Bridge Came Down” (the Westgate collapse), and the perils of asbestos removal in “The Devil You Know”.
“Love is a Heavy Road” was a sorrowful and deliciously paced song of forlorn love, McKenzie nailing its plaintive feel with impressive fretwork. Of course the closing moments rendered “Throw Your Arms Around Me”, which kept some of its essential intimacy despite the very willing pub sing-alongers. Affairs of the heart once more.
Seymour is willing to take a chance with his songs, and you have to admire that. The Norwood Hotel audience certainly did.
John Saffrin is actually John Favaro (of The Badloves).
The name of the song “Fire in a Country Town” is “Sirens”.
The name of the song “You Don’t Make Me Feel Like I’m a Woman Any More” is “Say Goodbye”.
The name of the song “Burn Your Little Bridges” is “Little Bridges”.
The name of the song “When the Bridge Came Down” is “Westgate”.
The name of the song “The Devil You Know” is “Legend of the Snowmen”.