By Rob Dickens.
Picture: Jim Jacob
Royal Oak Hotel, Launceston – April 6, 2017
Guitar maestro Jeff Lang released his new (and eleventh) album last month.
The wryly-titled Alone In Bad Company has been the catalyst for an extensive national tour from March to June. Lang’s stop-over at The Royal Oak Hotel in Launceston happily coincided with my visit to the Apple Isle.
A small, but enthusiastic, crowd was present as Lang burst into proceedings with some earlier songs, including the intricate and delicate ‘Bateman’s Bay’, the urgent, metallic, sitar-sounding ‘I Live In My Head A Lot These Days’ and the frenetic crescendo of ‘I Want To Run But My Legs Won’t Stand’.
New songs followed with the intriguing ‘Brian Boru’s Walls’ (about a murder in the 1890’s), the absorbing, witty co-writes with Don Walker – ‘Half My Luck’ and the pointed ‘With You I Can Throw Away The Pills’, together with the intense reverb of ‘Fugitive Ghosts’.
The first set ended on a brilliant note. ‘The House Carpenter’ had Lang striding out with great finesse, both vocally and through his dazzling playing.
After the break, the new racehorse tune ‘Palmera Lad’ sparkled, with shades of Neil Young-like power fuzzed guitar, while the rolling finger picking of ‘I Still See You’ showed emotional delicacy. The engaging single from the new release ‘Burnside’ was on display and is proof alone that Lang is one of Australia’s greatest-ever guitarists. ‘Always Moving’ from 1998 and the impressive new song ‘Smarts Hill Road’ (a Ballarat tale) shined.
An upbeat Chuck Berry cover and ‘Ravenswood’, the latter from his first album Prepare Me Well was a delightful way to end proceedings.
There are still plenty of Jeff Lang dates coming – what you will see is a guitar maestro with plenty of acute observations – go see him.