Sunset Tavern | Seattle | 11 September 2007
Darren Hanlon made his last stop on his world tour at the Sunset Tavern in Ballard last night, making this the second band from down under I’ve seen this week. Hanlon is not very well known in America, but thankfully he tours here anyway. He’s been to Seattle a number of times, the last time opening for the Magnetic Fields at the Moore Theatre (you can hear that performance as it’s the bonus disk to Fingertips and Mountaintops). In fact you would be hard pressed to find his cd’s in a record store over here, but he took care of that last night, spreading all three albums in front of him on stage saying they were for sail, that he was prepared to play whatever we wanted to hear from them. The audience obliged him, shouting out requests like The Kickstand song and Brooklyn Bridge. With his songs as a window into his personality, you would assume he would be a jovial, and gregarious performer. No disappointment there, with Hanlon telling funny anecdotes about his current tour. In his deadpan Australian accent he told Stories about Norwegians telling him how he should speak with more inflection, and five legged cows at some prairie dog park in the Midwest, and Americans asking him if Hulk Hogan was related to Paul Hogan.
The music was just as good as the banter, he performed mostly solo with a guitar, and occasional accompaniment of piano and trumpet. The piano and trumpet accompaniment made me reminisce about the times when Billy Bragg toured with Wiggy and Cara Tivey, and Hanlon has many of Bragg’s on stage qualities albeit all much more understated. He played for only an hour, which seems like such a short time considering the distance he had traveled to be here. We were treated to a good sampling from all three of his albums and even a brand new song which may have been called Give Me Presents. The highlight of the night for me was when he put down his guitar and sang to the saloon style piano of Manila NSW from his latest Fingertips and Mountaintops. It’s an old world style ballad that yearns for the old Australian small town with a wry, heartfelt humor Hanlon seems to effortlessly incorporate into most of his songs. Hanlon is one of those performers that just seem to be meant for the stage, I look forward to his next visit.
These are the songs I heard, though not in this particular order:
Winter Takes Fall
Give Me Presents
The Ostracism Of Vinny Lalor
The Kickstand Song
The Last Night of Not Knowing You
…Alas, no Punk’s Not Dead, or Operator Get Me Sweden.