SHOW REVIEW: Dirty Three live in Detroit by KARENA
Tuesday, 25 September, 2012
Trinosophes, Detroit USA
Words / Pics by KARENA
Upon arriving to newer performance space and soon to be cafe, Trinosophes (near Detroit's Eastern Market), I could feel the energy of the anticipation of the crowd and their excitement for the evening's show about to unfold.
Lots of familiar faces, as well as some folks that perhaps hadn't come out of the woodwork in a while. The venue itself seems to be a new and exciting feat for local composer/musician/teacher Joel Peterson, who had been putting together shows and events at Bohemian National Home in past years, as well as being a founding member of various Detroit based musical groups. Trinosophes as a space is still not renovated to completion, giving it a more "raw" vibe which I found quite fitting for the lineup of the nights performances. Hartford Connecticut noise rock band and Drag City cohorts Magic Markers were the opening act, a trio just as Dirty Three. I hadn't seen Magic Markers before this night. Just knew a bit about their sound, and that they started out as a basement band, later releasing their debut album "I Trust My Guitar, etc." on Thurston Moore's label Ecstatic Peace. I thought their performance was a solid lead up to the main course.
You can find out more about them here: http://www.allmusic.com/artist/magik-markers-mn0000543584
It's been nearly a decade since Australia's explosive three piece Dirty Three has graced us with their presence here in Detroit, and seven years since their last release as a trio. On their recent minimal nine city tour of the USA promoting their newest release on Drag City Records, "Toward The Low Sun", they mindfully chose Detroit City as one of their stops. Violinist and frontman Warren Ellis spoke quite fondly of their memories playing here in past years as well as a serious interest in our rich musical history, during one of his 5 minute rants between songs. I personally enjoyed the verbal interaction with the audience, while other people found it to be a slight annoyance. I found it to be endearing and authentic, personal and engaging. Although his sarcasm bit towards other bands, which I won't mention who, was perhaps unnecessary. All three members of this trio had such a different stage presence. Ellis with his intensely wild movements, stomping the ground with his feet, and random kicks into the air, all while playing the violin with such fervor. Mick Turner who played electric guitar, also had a strong presence, but seemed to be hyper focused creating his landscape of dreamy to hard chord sounds, while mostly staying in one place on the stage. Then there's percussionist Jim White. Enthralling. The relationship he has with his drums is so beautiful to watch. It's literally as though he's in another time and space, yet very present, and his fluidity of movement while he plays looks as though he's dancing with his trap set. One of my favorite percussionists, by far.
Their set covered a good portion of their latest release, varying into tracks from previous albums including one of my favorites, the 1996 release Horse Stories. During the first thirty minutes or so of their nearly two hour performance, they played under intensely bright lights, which I thought was a bit too bright myself, and made it quite warm in the space we were in. So, I left from the side of the stage to cool off and head over to the makeshift bar to have a drink. Whew. Once I made it back over to my spot to watch the rest of the show, Warren spoke up and asked if someone could please turn down the lights...while dripping in sweat. Brilliant idea. Made for an interesting remainder of the performance, as the only other lighting was a few dim red bulbs. This red lighting set the tone perfectly to their moody, emotionally charged, dynamic symphony of electric rock music.
I suppose I didn't pay too much attention to the audience, but from what I did observe most folks seemed to be just as drawn in to to their allure as I was...a friend of mine mentioned that he went to the back of the audience for most of their performance to take it all in, and "stood in the back twirling around like Stevie Nicks, drunk on mystical sounds."
Bloody ripper! About sums it up nicely.
So yeah, really feel quite grateful to have had the chance to see the Dirty Three once again, and look forward to seeing what they end up taking on individually as musicians collaborating, as well as this powerhouse trio.