As I waited in line Sunday afternoon with a crowd of what seemed to be 100 underage girls, anyone would think I was going in to see the good ol’ boys of 1D, even I begun to question it. At one point I began thinking Ashton Kutcher would jump out and tell me I’d been Punkd. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case and I was lining up to see Winterbourne, a central coast duo consisting of buskin’ babes James and Jordan who produce a surprisingly beautiful mixture of folk, americana, and indie.
Folk duo Winterbourne nailed their gig at The Lair with plenty of mandolin, harmonies, tight pants and a solid cover of the Kinks thrown in for good measure.
There were two supports for the night and first up was Nathan Hawes. Looking like your average surfer, with beach blonde hair, a wide brimmed fedora and an acoustic guitar in hand. I was in awe when he started laying down amazing percussion, hitting, finger picking, and strumming his guitar, it was a gorgeous, unrefined indie folk experience. Hawe performed a few original tracks including highlight Raised by The Sea, a nostalgic tune that reached impossibly heavy heights seemingly well beyond his years.
Although an undeniable talent in the making, his performance endured a few timing mishaps that to most of the crowd went unnoticed, possibly due to their need to conduct loud conversations throughout, which at times overshadowed Hawe’s volume. All round it was alluring set from a unique acoustic performer, whose guitar playin’ alone had won my whole hearted attention.
The second support for the night was Gordi, dressed super causal in jeans and a tee; she played a stripped back set that featured only her acoustic guitar, a keyboard and vocals. Her tone was enticing, deep and had all the sentiment one could possibly ask for and her on stage banter was endearing. Yet I couldn’t decipher more than a few lyrics that had been sung. This time it wasn’t because of the crowd in fact they all seemed to have settled into a state of nonchalance. Her pronunciation was an issue, although mumbling into the microphone is a favoured thing among many artists in the modern era, it just didn’t quite work in her favour. Lacking the intensity of a full band, it very quickly became a bore. Each track began to morph into one giant song that although exuded passion, was mediocre at best, and failed to leave me even mildly elated.
The main act for the night Winterbourne were next up and as soon as they hit the stage I was relieved. Their first few songs including the fan favourite Steady My Bones and Our Love’s a Lie, were impeccable. Playing with a drummer whose timing and looks were parallel to an early Ginger Baker, and whose crisp, powerful playing was one of the standouts of the night, a bassist/keyboardist whose virtuoso techniques kept his playing deep, and a guitarist whose adeptness made each note seem like the breeziest thing on earth made for a great start. The boys’ harmonisation was close to perfection throughout each and every song, and with the mandolin allowing each melody to fall into a picturesque Americana tune; it became certain that the band were one of extreme proficiency.
As the fourth song rolled around, the audience was asked to help name the untitled track, and settled on possibly the snazziest title of all time Winterbruce. It was undoubtedly the funniest moment of the night, a ‘you had to be there’ kind of scenario. Their fifth song was a cover of the Kinks’ Sunny Afternoon, and I was a little worried. Could they do such a classic song justice? Indeed they could. As soon as the vocals begun and the mandolin solos erupted, I closed my eyes and felt as though I was sitting in a bar in Nashville back in the 60s. Their folky spin on the track made it their own, and quite frankly I think I may have enjoyed it just a tad more than the original. By the time they’d finished the song, I was a lil’ hot under the collar, I never knew the mandolin could be so damned seductive.
Overall the musicianship was tight, and the connection between these brothers in folk was compelling to witness. It is evident that each of the band members was born to be up on that stage. It was one of the most substantial music experiences I have had, and one I won’t soon forget. It was original, RAW and had all the 60s Americana vibes a gal could ever want. A 10/10 for combining folk mastery, humour and pants so tight one couldn’t look away.
Y’all can catch these stone cold folky foxes doing their thing on March 26 at Lizottes in Newcastle.
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▲ WINTERBOURNE ▲ GORDI ▲ NATHAN HAWES
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