After seeing William Crighton kick off his East Coast album release tour with a spine tingling performance at the eclectic Gumball festival over the ANZAC Day long-weekend, when I heard he was performing at the Stag & Hunter on Saturday night of course I jumped at the chance. As someone who really appreciates the power of great lyrics, Crighton’s debut self titled album is one that has really stuck around during those late night bouts of writers insomnia and I was incredibly excited to see him perform again. Safe to say, I was overwhelmingly impressed.
It was an odd mix of punters who packed out the main bar, a combination of RM Williams, ‘suits and ties’ and the odd Hipster Kid which, truly showcases true diversity of Crighton’s eclectic and sultry sound. A fusion of Matt “Magpie” Johnson from the Magpie Diaries and guitarist Chris Dale (who is possibly the happiest country kid rocking around), opened the show with effortlessly beautiful folk/country tunes that were thick with feeling. Seasoned local performers “Baghead" carried that vibe through with jaw dropping standout performances by guitarist Dave Wells and Dan Johnson’s rendition of Springsteen’s “My Hometown” impressed every punter. But it was the rich and ever towering presence of William Crighton that drew the crowd into a frenzy of collective wonderment.
On Saturday night Crighton wasn't just performing or rehashing tired old songs he’d written and played a million times. He completely changed the feel of the room… He made a small, dark, packed bar feel open, fresh and wonderful. Crighton singlehandedly presented the essence and purpose of song writing at its absolute core. Rather than simply playing to the crowd as a mass collective, he imparted a level of effortless connectedness to every individual listener, bringing back a sense of a emotive purpose that is far too often forgotten amongst the Friday night bar scene.
The setlist was a composition of seamless transitions from track to track with the overall focus, being the music, never wavering. Standouts were definitely “2000 Clicks”, “Riverina Kid” and of course the ever dark and sultry “Smile” that has since remained in my normally ever changing playlist since the album’s release.
Family ties were clearly evident during the performance with Crighton’s wife Jules providing angelic backup up vocals and his “scrawny little brother” Luke Crighton playing base. Fellow guitarist Chris Dale, who seemed to be experiencing what only a rare few really hear and feel whilst playing music, also accompanied Crighton, providing a sense of consistently jovial depth and substance and was an absolute joy to watch.
When addressing the crowd, Crighton was humble and thankful that punters decided to “choose live music over the television this evening” and was happy to state that he was “having a bloody good time”. Crighton and his band closed the show with the clear foot stompers “Jesus Blues” and “Dig Your Mind” to an excited and still hungry crowd who, it appeared, could have happily enjoyed the set again in its entirety with one gig goer yelling “ah come on mate play them again!”.
William Crighton is a truly talented songwriter, a tall man with an eerie yet captivatingly beautiful staunchness for story telling and I was honestly in awe of his performance. Another successful Saturday night spent at the Stag & Hunter.
Check out the amazing video for William Crighton’s “Woman Like You” here
His debut album is available on iTunes, ABC shops online as well as from your friendly and local
JB-HI- Fi music staff.
Local bands, local music. Support, support, support.