Dan Sultan – Mojo Stage, Monday April 2
Can I take a moment to state how much I love Dan Sultan‘s song ‘Old Fitzroy’. The time signature, the melancholy lyrics sensitively and deftly evoking distance, loss and wasted promise, the fact that it sits out, stands out, from linear time… If Sultan never did another thing he has given the world this song. From the mini-album Get Out While You Can (with the beautiful green cover), it was on high rotation when Dan was the new young man about town, handsome, enigmatic, a presence. There’d be whispers, ‘Dan Sultan’s here’, and a surreptitious mass checking of lippy and straightening stocking seams, just in case…
Anyway, fast forward, and he’s on stage, on his own stage: “It’s good to be back – I’ve been guilty of jumping up with my mates when I’m not on the bill”. He’s older and wiser, still charismatic and intriguing, with THAT voice that calls out across the miles. He has a larger repertoire to select from now; his most recent album Killer released just last year, the title track describing dangerous passion: “just a killer for love”. ‘Under Your Skin’, from 2014’s Blackbird, ramps it up, giving your senses a sly musical seduction.
Sultan alternates between two beautiful guitars, vivid red and golden green (‘it was a lovely gift’), keeping the guitar tech team on their toes. He has some fun with the audience, pastiching hackneyed stagecraft and fishing for cheers, before confessing “it’s just a bit of fun and bravado. I appreciate you being here”. He then thanked the “ancestors, past present and future, for having us in this very special part of the world”. He introduces a new song, a chunky boogie strut, containing the message that now is not the time to make or take excuses for poor behaviour, from ourselves or others. “I know that I will get back up again”, he sings in ‘Kimberley Calling’, an ever-so-slight country breeze like a siren call wafting through the song’s structure. Handclaps punctuate Hold It Together with its almost-dance beat. “You know this one, it’s called Old Fitzroy”, he says, introducing the song which tonight features the spine-tingling backing vocals of siblings Eliza and Tali Wolfgramm (of The Wolfgramm Sisters).
Sultan’s voice can simultaneously shout and cry, a tangible aural embodiment of victory or frustration, the search for release or redemption, the complex human condition that sparks recognition, because it’s in all of us.