REVIEW: Thomas Calder @ Black Bear Lodge 16.01.14

tcWe at Mind The Music have always had a soft spot for Brisbane band, The Trouble With Templeton. Having seen them play at a number of gigs and events around the city, I was intrigued when I heard that front man Thomas Calder also plays the odd solo gig. His most recent solo performance at Black Bear Lodge on January 16th was the first in over a year, and the stripped back acoustic set certainly didn’t disappoint.

Without meaning to start on a negative, I feel the need to point out two definite no-nos when attending a sold out gig in a small venue:

  1. Do not set your seats up with metres of space between you and the stage, and then complain when people ask you to move forward or stand in front of you. It’s cramped, we’re hot, and you’re being blatantly rude to the hoards of people that are struggling to see the stage from the very back of the room.
  2. If there’s barely any room to stand, then unfortunately there’s no room to dance. I’m all for self-expression but if you honestly feel the need to awkwardly bop out of time and continuously nudge me with your sweaty tuckshop-lady arms, then please… take that shit somewhere else.

~ moving right along ~

The set list of the night was an eclectic mix of old and new material featuring tracks from both records, Bleeders and Rookie. Tom also threw in a few songs which never made it onto the band’s albums, including a duet with band member Betty Yeowart for ‘Please Don’t Tell Me’. Although there was a slight mishap with forgotten lyrics, everyone laughed it off and the duo finished the song with heavenly vocals which complimented each other so well. The band’s guitarist Hugh Middleton then joined them on stage for ‘You Are New’ and ‘1832’, another track which unfortunately hasn’t made it onto an album yet. Calder went on to explain that he doesn’t often write about his life, with the exception of his newest song ‘Mum and Dad’ which he’d only written a few days prior to the show. He concluded his set with ‘Secret Pastures’ before a much anticipated encore performance of ‘Someday Soon’ – cheeky video of that one below.

Although the trio’s performance of well known track ‘You Are New’ was faultless, the personal highlight of my night was ‘Six Months In A Cast’. There’s something compelling about taking a highly produced, upbeat track and stripping it back to its core; allowing you to appreciate it in its purest form. Tom’s raw emotion was particularly evident throughout this entire track, and captivated the audience when combined with the rough acoustic chords and progressive dynamics.

Tom admitted himself that “an hour is a long time to just sit and watch a guy with a fucking guitar”, but I have to admit that at times, he didn’t do himself many favours. I feel that the breaks between each song were perhaps longer than necessary and therefore somewhat awkward. Calder also struggled to make conversation with his audience and the time it took him to tune his guitar sometimes seemed to drag on forever – however this is something he is well aware of as he light-heartedly pointed it out himself. Nevertheless, it was undoubtably worth the wait as the first strum of each song triggered complete silence from the audience, with the whole venue in awe.

ttwt

Tom’s distinctive intonation and lyrical poetry have become well known characteristics for The Trouble With Templeton, and hearing these two strong aspects showcased in such a raw, honest way was utterly engaging. I can’t quite decide whether I prefer TTWT’s songs performed as a full band or solo performance, as each provides a distinctly contrasting experience. That said, Tom allowed me to enjoy the tracks in a whole new light and I can’t recommend his solo shows enough. Be sure to check out their Facebook page to keep up to date with all the latest info; we’re predicting big things to come in 2014!

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