[MUSIC ~ US]
Trinity Sessions, Thu 5 Dec, 2019.
As the warm applause dies down, singer, storyteller and songwriter Steve Poltz lopes onto the Trinity stage. “How’s everybody doin’ tonight? Y’alright?” he drawls. Bathed in blue light, he begins with the beautiful Shine On, the title track from his newest album. He follows this with Pharmacist, just as he does on the record. Obviously tuckered out after his long trip from Melbourne, he delivers some of the song from astride his guitar case, a possession he lauds at the end of the song. “This is the greatest show I’ve ever played,” says Poltz, for the first time ever…
Poltz is wireless tonight so he has full license to skip around the Trinity, like a toddler who has slipped his reins in the supermarket, playing and singing wherever he wants. He loves getting to know his audience, chatting mid-song, sitting on laps and getting folks to sing along.
The first set, as expected, features a slew of tall tales; rambling monologues about Jeep ads, Adelaide Central Market, (not) paying taxes, scrambling around in trash bins, Whispering Palms Golf Club and Marie Kondo. He even manages to play a few songs, like Over The Top For You and You Remind Me (from 2003’s Chinese Vacation album). The lucky audience also gets renditions of O Canada and Sons Of God for good measure. Poltz finishes the hour-long set with an impromptu audience-member photo shot and a rendition of Folksinger, inviting everyone to join in with the irresistible chorus. “Next set I won’t talk at all,” he promises, unreliably.
Poltz returns to the stage and begins the second half of the show with his take on Canned Heat’s Goin’ Up The Country, setting the scene for a set that shows all facets of this one-of-a-kind artist. 10 Chances , another song from 2003, continues the largely mellow music selections to this point of the performance. The quirky Butter Jacket signals a move towards some of Poltz’ trademark craziness, and this is followed by Windows Of Halifax. There’s some jamming in open D tuning, and then there’s a couple of hilarious stories about the 2012 Adelaide birthing centre gig and a town breakfast in Peterborough. Steve Poltz shows almost always include songs evidently made up on the spot, usually featuring a range of looped crazy vocal effects. Does The Carpet Match The Drapes? is tonight’s specialty item, and it’s another doozy. It’s trumped, however, by the hilariously disturbing Sewing Machine, a special request. “Somebody told me that if I didn’t play that they’d kill me,” he laughs. He follows all of these hi-jinks with a brand new song, bringing things back to a more relaxed, thoughtful level.
The hopeful I Want All My Friends To Be Happy, which includes a dedication of sorts to an Adelaide Poltz fan who is too ill to make it to tonight’s show, is the climax of the evening. Poltz says he has gone way overtime. No-one minds; time passes quickly when you are in his thrall. He performs an exquisite version of Bob Dylan’s Not Dark Yet as an encore before leaving the stage to rapturous applause.
Steve Poltz has once again demonstrated, in spades, that there is no-one on earth who does what he does. And, boy, does he do it well…
He is, quite literally, incomparable.
Image courtesy of David Robinson