Live Review: José González w/ Tiny Ruins @ The Tivoli
After almost 10 years since José González graced Australian shores with his melodic and enchanting soundscapes, the Swedish indie-folk singer returned to Brisbane for his Vestiges and Claws show.
Supporting the ethereal man was NZ outfit Tiny Ruins (aka Hollie Fullbrook). The singer-songwriter dealt a laidback introduction to the night, with a simple set. Tiny Ruins treated us to a handful of songs, just a girl and her guitar. Whilst there was nothing there to make the crowd sit up and take notice, it’ll be interesting to see where this girl takes her talent in the future.
When the main event rolled around José González took to the stage. Flanked by his four person band, the night unfolded in true González style. This new album does not break the mould, that’s for sure. But with the continued sound of his previous records charming the crowd; he’s following the old adage, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. After all, if you’ve found the recipe for success some would call you a fool for trying to change it!
With his signature sparse tone and stage aesthetic, González showcased nothing but the music. Kicking the night off with 2003 favourite Crosses, González reminded the crowd of just how long he’s been a master of his craft. Comparing the songs of this era to the new record, barely anything has changed or evolved. It’s an interesting artistic decision to make, but we respect it all the same.
With songs such as Every Age, Leaf Off / The Cave and The Forest among some of the songs from the new album, there was something for fans from every stage of González’s career. Conjuring an image of the spirit of the desert – particularly during his lone performances González seemed to take the form of a mirage. Symbolic of the saviour, and transitioning between the light and dark, the loud and the soft, it was an incredible journey. His appearance, mood and lyrics reminds one of an introspective, but despite this González drew fans in due to a decade of hits detailing their own private moments.
Perhaps the two most anticipated and among the two most popular songs of the night came courtesy of covers. Teardrop (a Massive Attack original) and Heartbeats (Swedish band The Knife were the first to coin this one) were both famous for getting González’s name out there and grabbing people’s attention. Both were re-worked in his signature style to reflect the folk nature of the singer-songwriter and were instant crowd favourites.
It does beg the question, why his two most (arguably) popular songs are covers of other artists. González put on a great show, doing what he does best. The crowd however left something to be desired. Uninclined to sing along or show too much enthusiasm it made for a strange atmosphere of the evening.
I have wanted to see González since I first heard Heartbeats in high school, and now that I have, I can say that he was exactly what I expected. It is not a night of rock n roll, nor does he take any big gambles with his music, but for González it’s what you see is what you get, and what you get is pretty damn good.
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Photos by Tom Sue Yek