The annual Laneway music festival that tours all major Australian cities is a great way to catch up with some of the staunch old gentlemen of rock’n roll. This year promised a stellar lineup from go to whoa.
Mr Punk was up early ably represented by young bands SHAME and DREAM WIFE both with debut LPs coming out in January 2018. Mr Indie- Rock was ubiquitous appearing on many of the stages with THE WAR ON DRUGS being one of the genre leaders. Mr Jazz was as expected “on the jazz “ in the form of BADBADNOTGOOD. Even Mr Shoegaze (SLOWDIVE) was there with a new album 22 years after their previous release.
But it was Miss Folk who stole the show this year showcasing 2017’s album Party. When Aldous Harding takes the stage dressed all in white with her great white guitar she is visually arresting. Her demeanour is that of an albino praying mantis as she cocks her head and stares down the audience one by one. It’s not a question of will she eat everyone’s heart but rather when will she do it.
After the first two songs Elation and Blend half the audience’s hearts are already gone. Aldous is at times trancelike while singing but will then suddenly wrench out emotions and memories in a musical catharsis. As she stares ahead again there is grace but there is also foreboding. Horizon and Party are the most beautiful and at the same time most disturbing songs I have ever seen in 10 years of Laneway.
Aldous is a goddess, a femme fatale and a wild screeching bird. Her voice is a dissociative identity disorder changing with perfect timing to her song’s changing moods. On Imagining My Man the split personalities fly in every direction. At times I can hear Nico of the Velvet Underground and Edith Piaf vying for attention with other unnamed chanteuses before being drowned out by an ululating bint who may never see the light of day.
By closing new song Pilot the delicate creature Aldous has ripped out every heart in the audience and mulched them in her garden of painful beauty. Aldous forever and may her party never stop.