Jack Ladder live

By Chris Mineral

The marquee lights were blazing away at the Forum Theatre on Flinders St on Thursday, May 6. 

Jack Ladder was in town to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his pivotal third album, Hurtsville. The anniversary reissue vinyl album is in great record stores in Melbourne via Endless Recordings.

Jack Ladder, the baritone singer-guitarist-songwriter-musician Americans believe to be from Melbourne because of his style in singing and presenting his music, was in prime form. People in the audience were wearing special Hurtsville truckers caps, black with teal writing. This was Ladder’s audience. The musicians who recorded the original Hurtsville material had reassembled and their Captain Jack Ladder delivered the goods.

They played the heart wrenching, beautiful, sulphurous, ecstatic songs from the album. One of the highlights was the crowd pleaser Giving Up The Giving Up. The songs contain intriguing often provocative narratives, like a Charles Bukowski poem. Then there’s the subtle abstract poetics of Scott Walker in the mixture. Some Iggy Pop, Lou Reed in the flavouring. Done with great panache, wit, verve and style. Spice it up with Jack Nitzschke atmospheric build ups, and the Silver Jews and you approach the Dreamlanders world.

After the Hurtsville album had been played through at the start of the show, the band then proceeded to play some choice selections from the Jack Ladder catalogue. Come On Back This Way and Reputation Amputation got the crowd moving.

There’s an undeniable chemistry at play within this band. Kirin J Callinan, the guitarist is most theatrical, wearing a Nephilim long coat and a black hat. In motion he has the striking, flowing moves of a Samurai warrior, a musical creature from a Leigh Chalker universe. Very Robert Mitchum. His guitar playing punctuates and emphasises the narrative drive of Ladder’s material. Very staccato flourishing. A most unique artist. He has a crazy looking guitar that looks like he got from a garage sale in St Paul.

Mr Experience on the bass guitar is Donny Benet, who is rock solid, in the pocket and very ‘70s groove in his creative input into the making of Hurtsville acknowledged by Jack Ladder. The genius of Jack Ladder is that he has a couple of larger than life musicians to his left and right on stage. At the finale, Kirin threw his guitar high into the air and caught it on the way back to Earth.

It was a great show, hail the 21st century Melbourne musician Jack Ladder who lit up the Forum Theatre stage.

Inspired by the sophisticated Minneapolis funk sound, Melbourne band Lake Minnetonka launch its latest album House Arrest at the Night Cat on Saturday, June 5. With its electrifying live show, this is one not to be missed. This is Lake Minnetonka’s second album and it is super-excited to bring to its fans a Minneapolis flavoured dance party featuring on vocals Chantal Mitvalsky, Petra Elliott and Henry Manetta. House Arrest, recorded in both Melbourne and Minneapolis, includes musical appearances from Dr Fink, St Paul Peterson, Horatio Luna and Pasobionic!

Lake Minnetonka also highlights the brilliant keyboard skills of Adam Rudegair. Rudegair is also involved in the Bowie Project, reinterpretations of David Bowie’s work and the Bayou Tapestry. This is sophisticated music from the Melbourne soul jazz funk universe. Explore the infinite, passionate, hypnotic depths of Lake Minnetonka’s sonic palette.

JOTHI will be kicking off the night. This is a PBS Presents event, and tickets are now on sale. 3PBS are a pillar in the Melbourne music world, and their Radiothon is happening until May 31.

Chris Smith, guitar maker extraordinaire, brilliant musician will be launching his album Second Hand Smoke as part of the RISING Arts Festival at Max Watts, Swanston St, on Sunday, June 6. Smith delivered one of the best albums of 2020 during Lockdown 2.0. Better known for his sonic forays into minimalist guitar relay territories inspired by Steve Reich, Phillip Glass, Roy Montgomery, the brilliant album Second Hand Smoke sees Chris Smith emerging into the sunlight with a surprising musical offering where his signature overdriven guitar drenched atmospherics were reined in and a Tex Mex, south of the border slide blues guitar feel appears in the mix, with deadpan, laconic southern drawl vocals. Something along the lines of Stan Ridgway, Andy Prieboy, Tom Waits after a conversation with a Priest.

Compelling material. The animation film to Second Hand Smoke, the title track, is superb.

The performance will be one of two halves, the first half featuring the Chris Smith guitar noise maestro and the second half, Chris Smith with a full band featuring the Second Hand Smoke material. It will be a case of watching Dr Jekyll morph into Mr Hyde or vice versa. Also playing that night are Geelong’s Lost Animal and OV Pain, a darkwave duo from Dunedin, New Zealand •

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