Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Gift: Lior in Brisbane

In Brisbane, enjoying the city for the first time in 10 months, walking by the river with nothing but street lights marking the path. The first breaths of summer lightly graze my face. Just 20 minutes before I am in a tent right in the middle of the CBD, totally transfixed by the majesty of restraint and poise that is Lior. After 70 minutes in front of a full house Lior launches into Nature Boy, the jazz standard made famous by Nat King Cole. The song’s central theme of the song in a sense summed up the night.
‘The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return.'
Lior’s By Request Tour stopped by the Spegeltent last night, as part of the three week long Brisbane Festival. Before the show fans were invited to request any song they wished on Lior’s website, each dutifully performed by the Sydney based musician. This added both a sense of entertaining interplay between the master and his audience as well as a sense of spontaneity rarely found in live performances.

Backed by an equally talented string quartet, Lior’s set mixed fan favourites, deep album cuts and an array of fine covers. Among the latter was Don McLean’s Vincent: beautifully sparse and quiet. Crowded House’s Into Temptation reinterpreted with a heavy soul flavour. and my request, Lior’s little heard reworking of Bob Dylan’s Satisfied Mind. On a lighter note he also performed a cover of Bon Jovi’s Livin’ On A Prayer to the tune of the Sesame Street theme.

But it as a songwriter that Lior remains at his best. Opening the set with the subdued Grey Ocean he immediately left the audience transfixed. So too with the night’s highlight Sonja, one of my favourite tracks from Lior’s best album Corner Of An Endless Road, and of course with his trademark song, perennial wedding song This Old Love. Lior’s gift as a live performer remains the same as on his recorded works: his clean and crisp voice that has the ability to cut through to the heart of his emotional lyrics.

When Nature Boy started with an acapella rendering of the entire song, the audience knew that they had witnessed the emotional power of great music. The feeling that climbs up from the depths of the soul and demands to be heard. Indeed that too is a great gift, amongst the many the audience heard last night.

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