Live Review: Clare Bowen w/ Timothy Bowen @ The Triffid
AAA Backstage covers some very broad genres, but it could definitely be said that we aren’t particularly brushed up on our country music. Maybe it’s because we don’t know where to start with the world’s highest selling genre, or maybe it’s because we haven’t had the chance to go to THAT many country artist’s shows in Brisbane. With that in mind, when we were offered the chance to go to see Clare Bowen’s show at The Triffid we were excited and apprehensive at the same time, unsure of what to expect.
Known for her role as Scarlett O’Connor on the US television show ‘Nashville’, Bowen has spent the last few weeks performing her way along the east coast on her debut Australian tour. All dates were sold-out, with extra shows having to be added to accommodate the number of fans demanding tickets.
The show kicked off with Bowen’s younger brother Timothy and his two-person backing band. His simple but incredibly moving performance showcased his powerful vocals and spectacular song-writing skills. For most of his performance, Timothy’s guitar lines lacked any distracting flair, instead opting for a canvas of chord-work that highlighted his voice.
“His heartwarming performance was even more emotionally charged when he announced he was currently in the midst of cancer treatment; in and out of hospital throughout the tour.”
However at times, backing guitarist Paul Mason would shine through with a hint of intricate lead that complimented the tone. Backing singer, and “love of Tim’s life”, Christina Mullany sang soaring harmonies alongside Timothy’s vocals, with the pair treating the crowd to more than one duet in their set.
Highlights of Timothy’s set included a track that he recorded as a commission for Virgin Mobile, aptly named Answer the Call and a stripped back cover of Sia’s Chandelier. His heartwarming performance was even more emotionally charged when he announced to the crowd that he was currently in the midst of treatment for cancer, and had been in and out of hospital throughout the tour.
Leaving just enough time for the last remaining stragglers to fill out the already shoulder-to-shoulder ‘Triffid, Clare Bowen took to the stage to really get the crowd moving. Joined by a full backing band, Bowen played a combination of songs from ‘Nashville’, her original tracks from an upcoming debut album, and a smattering of covers in her hour-and-a-half set. The concert was quite emotional with Bowen discussing her time in America, her brother’s illness, and other family moments between songs.
Her presence was mesmerising, as she danced, twirled, and leaped across the stage in rockier numbers, or sat atop monitors during quiet and introspective ballads. It was a show that was a slick as it was rollicking and one that had definitely been inspired by more grandiose venues. Bowen seemed like she would be perfectly at home the Grand Ole Opry or the Ryman Auditorium, both of which she has previously played.
“Her presence was mesmerising, as she danced, twirled, and leaped across the stage in rockier numbers, or sat atop monitors during quiet and introspective ballads.”
Her vocals were incredible, a trait she shared with her brother, and she had the crowd in her hand as she sang powerfully through tracks such as her cover of KT Tunstall’s Black Horse and a Cherry Tree or almost at a whisper in songs like Black Roses.
Her backing band were a tight outfit as well, having formed a kind of choreography to their performance. Bowen was joined on stage by her husband and guitarist Brandon Young, her brother’s guitarist, Paul Mason, and a very in-sync rhythm section. In the later half of the set, Bowen was also joined by Timothy and Christina, who fit right in on the crowded stage. Aside from a few moments when a group of hecklers at the back of the room were shouting their strange song requests (much to the ire of some other punters) the crowd was mesmerised for the whole show.
Going into the gig knowing little about Bowen and her work was certainly a good chance to form an understanding of the genre as a whole. Bowen’s songwriting is almost a visual experience, describing her subjects in detail, painting an aural picture for the audience and using the music to set the tone, no matter what tone she is trying to set. Her performance style is similarly broad but still incredibly entertaining.