Why this gig?
Because Antonio is one of the best performers around. One day he’ll be huge and you won’t be able to see him in venues like this. Also he’s a mate, and it’s good to support your mates when they’re launching a new EP.
This is a busy night. There are three support acts. First on is Stephanie Fraser. She’s a singer-songwriter with a great voice and some lovely songs. But there are plenty of those around and I’m not sure that she has yet found anything to differentiate her from the pack.
Then there’s Dawson, who is apparently the 2013 UK Loop Station Champion. As befits that title he’s incredibly adept at building up many layers of sound and turning them into great songs. I’ll be investigating him further.
Then we get a couple of songs from Kal Lavelle. Kal is the organiser of tonight’s show (which is part of her We Love Shows series) and for the last couple of years she has been recording an album. The second of tonight’s songs is recorded live to hopefully be included on that album. It sounds a lot like Ani Difranco – and that’s no bad thing.
When I first saw Antonio play, it was just him and a guitar (well, more accurately, him and three or four different guitars at various points of the night – it was fun watching him get to a gig on the tube!) Sometimes he’d have a guest backing singer (which was often Kal Lavelle). Then a couple of years ago John Parker (of Nizlopi) started playing double bass with him on a pretty regular basis. And tonight the band has expanded once again with the addition of Rhiannon Mair on drums. So tonight we get a full band sound. This line-up is about to tour the UK for a couple of weeks before Antonio goes off to South America to support Ed Sheeran there.
Tonight’s show is to launch Antonio’s new EP, Son. So we get all five songs from that – but they’re all already pretty well-known to the audience as Antonio has been playing them live for some time now.
They open with “Beckoning Drum”, and I’m immediately struck by how much the drums add to the sound. I’ve heard Antonio and John play it many times, but the drums really raise it to another level. It’s fast becoming one of my favourite Antonio Lulic songs. This is followed by “The City of Austin Texas”, another song from the EP, but one in a rather more melancholy vein.
The rest of the EP follows interleaved with songs from Antonio’s back-catalogue. Kal joins him on stage for “The Sound of the Girl Next Door Singing” which the audience clearly know and love. The encore is “Boozehound” (which gets the audience joining in with great gusto) and “Say It’s OK” (which gets Kal back on stage to help out).
All in all a really good night out. If you get the chance to see Antonio play (with or without his band) then I recommend that you take it. You won’t regret it.