As part of the NGV Friday Nights Program I had the pleasure of attending a performance by Augie March in September of 2016.
The performance took place in The Great Hall. Featuring high ceilings decorated with stained glass murals the venue providing a magnificent space reminiscent of a cathedral.
A large and enthusiastic crowd representative of all ages and backgrounds had gathered in the Great Hall – the atmosphere was dynamic as persons filled the room directly from the (connected) Degas Exhibition. Others dined in the Pop-Up Restaurant whilst the gaps at the front of the stage gradually filled.
Enter Augie March.
It has been repeatedly stated that the music of Augie March is hard to categorise. And indeed it is. Yet the performance was seamless in that it effectively blended a range of musically diverse songs into a repertoire that was unified by the lead vocals of Glen Richards.
Augmented by a string and wind section the effect was a magnificent blend of orchestral and jazz sounds – merged with the quintessential indie/folk sounds that we have come to associate with Augie March.
Glen lead (although by no means dominated) his ensemble. The band were joined by the flamboyant Dan Luscombe from The Drones who accompanied Glen on piano and vocals. The multi-talented Dan similarly undertook the role of conductor for the instrumental sections.
Conversations took place across the stage among the performers. Glen – as is his style – provided a range of stories and anecdotes which were a pleasure to hear. With evident intelligence he continually interacted with both the band and the audience – lending to the performance a familial intimacy.
The actual songs selected spanned the career of Augie March. Opening with 2002’s The Vineyard the band played several songs from their Glimjack album Their single Pennywhistle from their 2008 album Watch Me Disappear proved to be particularly popular with the audience. Included were a selection of (avant-garde) covers debuted recently by the band at Dark MOFO in Hobart. They completed their performance with two tracks from their 2014 album Havens Dumb – Caroline: notably A Dog Starved and Never Been Sad.
Ever the multi-taskers the band stayed after their performance to sign vinyl copies of their recent album Glimjack (and sell other merchandise too). A wonderful evening.