Australian indie-folk duo Angus and Julia Stone astounded audiences with their Melbourne performance on Saturday night, promoting their latest album launched 15 September. Remarked by Julia as one of the “most beautiful venues in the world,” the Palais Theatre hosted the siblings and their extensive instrumental range, from trumpets to tambourines, to provide a humbling performance which gave homage not only to their greatest hits, including “Big Jet Plane,” but also their latest tracks including “Bloodhound” and “Cellar Door.”
Since their first collaboration in 2006, it is evident that the guidance of producer and guru Rick Rubin has brought the acoustic siblings closer than ever before, fostering the release of their self-entitled album, Angus and Julia Stone in 2014, following a brief separation to complete solo projects in 2012. The pair have taken Rubin’s guidance to new heights in Snow, released last week, which was written and self-produced by the pair across a period of 8 months from Angus’s cottage studio in Byron Bay, overlooking mountain views.
Snow starkly contrasts the sentimental indie-folk and acoustic style of the duo in tracks like “Nothing Else” with upbeat and instrumentally expansive tracks like “Chateau.” Furthermore, the underlying sonic and indie hip-hop vibe created within “Baudelaire” exemplifies the impact of Rubin in providing a “little more groove” to the pair's iconic sound. It is clear however, that the siblings work best when paired off each other, as seen in the titular “Snow” which alternates between Julia’s tantalisingly sweet vocals and Angus’s rugged charm.
Opening with a rendition of “My House Your House” from the new album, Julia hyped audiences with her trumpet solo, an impressive talent which is often underplayed in their recorded tracks. Julia shines best in live performances, seen by the way she confidently dances and engages the audiences, revealing that “Don’t Take my Word for It” was written as a love song about a trip to Queenscliff. Angus in contrast, whilst guarded on stage, undeniably impresses audiences with his outstanding acoustic skills and rugged, just-got-out-of-bed charm.
The acoustic duo also kept to tradition through Julia’s performance of “For You,” a song which has been played at each of their shows. The recorded version does not provide Julia’s hypnotic and dazing vocals justice, as this song, she confesses, was written in a hotel room as a last resort to save a relationship with a fellow musician.
Whilst the pair paid tribute to their iconic and acoustic style through hits including “Heart Beats Slow” and “Big Jet Plane,” the focus was ultimately on their new (and groovier!) sound, embedded within their live performance of “Nothing Else” and “Chateau.” It was through this, and their emphasis on “belonging” throughout the performance, that the siblings shared an important message with their fans, that being those who love you will continue to do so as you change and grow. This couldn’t reign truer for loyal fans of the duo, who have seen the siblings transition over the course of four albums. The pair exemplified this in their choice of the final three songs, performing both the new “Snow” and “Who Do You Think You Are” with a flawless performance of “Soldier” in between as homage to their first album, “A Book Like This” (2007).
Between the playful banter, musings and affection between the siblings as to who the fans “love more,” one thing is certain; OOMPH! cannot wait to see how the duo will continue to define and challenge perceptions of Australian indie-folk music with “a little more groove.”