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Handsome Family

with special guests the Darling Downs
East Brunswick Club, Melbourne, Australia
Thursday, 22nd February, 2007

"with percussion by: 12 squirrels, 2 chipmunks, 1 rabbit, and a pony"

I had missed the Handsome Family three times the last time they had came out so I was determined not to miss them this time. I bought my ticket in December and I had even prepared to walk home if I had to after the gig - luckily the tram was still running.

Before the show I looked around to see if I knew anyone else from other gigs around town and went outside to say hello to the puppy at the table (it kept licking my hand.) Much amusement was provided by security not letting Brett Sparks into his own gig. I will try to turn up a bit earlier next time so I can talk to the box office staff also as I liked them.

Rennie Sparks was on the merch stand, so I added to my collection of merch stand photos at the East Brunswick Club. I have to admit I was a bit shy as I wasn't expecting Rennie to be so nice so I didn't say much to her. I did like hearing about someone sending the Handsome Family a Chad Morgan CD though. They must get lots of weird stuff sent to them.

The Darling Downs were a surprise as I didn't expect them to be so good. Died Pretty were a bit before my time so I had never seen Ron Peno perform live. I thought it was great to see how Ron Peno used his hands when he sang and I am looking forward to seeing Kim Salmon perform at the Pint on Punt in the future.

As it was a sold out gig there were heaps of people in the band room which made it really hot. Brett was suffering during the show as he was sick and kept having to towel off, Rennie remained poised and perfect throughout.

I knew there was going to be some banter as I have their live CD (no longer available I think), Brett and Rennie could easily do a show at the comedy festival alongside Otis Lee Crenshaw and the other country acts as people even laughed during the serious stories. Andrew Bolt would crack the sads over some of the things Rennie said about the USA also and Brett kept getting annoyed.

It was great to see them live as Rennie's voice doesn't stand out as much in the recordings, plus you get extra things happening like the chipmunks attacking Brett's guitar and breaking a string and their banter as I have mentioned. I also found out that Rennie sings in her grandma's voice for "Down in Ground" which is why it sounds unique.

There were quite a few serious music fans in the audience as the level of fandom for the Handsome Family rivals Richard Thompson at times. I am sure they enjoyed the show as I did and cheers to Luke Roberts behind the bar and Glenn you I talked to on the tram after the gig.

Recording of the Handsome Family's set
Anne Sydenham's review for NU Country

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