The Stones in Bonn – Angus & Julia Stone

Angus and Julia Stone-187The day the Stones played at Kunst!Rasen!  Okay, so it wasn’t Mick and Keith but Angus and Julia, but would we get any satisfaction from the Australian brother and sister duo?  For the answer (and no more ‘Stones’ puns I promise) read on…

The evenings music began with Garage Rock from the Belgian City of Dilbeek by a band curiously titled The Black Box Revelation (or BBR for short). They certainly could have fit into the average garage – just Jan Paternoster on guitar and vocals with long time friend Dries Van Dijck pounding out the beat on drums. A young lady named Charlotte joined them for what was apparently the first time as backing vocalist but there wasn’t much space for her to fit in vocally as the duo seemed to have the material all down pat and didn’t leave much space for additional joining in.

The Black Box Revelation

The Black Box Revelation

The rhythms were undeniably meaty and the choruses particularly strong, if rather repetitive. I rather liked the power of ‘Warhorse’ and the title of their very first release, 2007’s ‘Set your head on fire’ would have made a good double A side with Bonafide’s ‘Fill your head with Rock’.  It had a rawness that I liked. “Beatles meets Kinks” is the duo’s description on Wikipedia, which they most certainly were not.  It also says “Pounding Blues, thick ambience and driving beats” which they most certainly were.

I have an Angus & Julia Stone CD at home, produced by the man behind the Man in Black’s late musical renaissance, Rick Rubin, that I quite enjoy as pleasant and restful background sounds. Would that be enough for an open-air concert by this young Australian duo though? From an identification point of view it wasn’t much help as Angus is either very dark or sitting back to the camera – I spent the whole of a precious first song taking shots of the wrong guitarist.

Angus Tone - one serious looking dude

Angus Stone – one serious looking dude

Julia on the other hand could not be mistaken for anyone else, except maybe Marilyn Monroe if you closed your eyes when she sang. Strumming on a guitar that at times seemed bigger than both her voice and her body together.

She has a beautifully fragile voice, and it’s really the mix of this with brother Angus’ smoky delivery that makes the duo stand out. Most noticeably on the closing number ‘Santa Monica Dream’ with it’s chilly lyrics:

“I could call you on the telephone
But do I really want to know?
You’re making love now to the lady down the road
No I don’t, I don’t want to know

I’m somewhere, you’re somewhere
I’m nowhere, you’re nowhere
You’re somewhere, you’re somewhere
I could go there but I don’t”

It was certainly spine-tingling stuff – just a shame that it was barely 9.40pm and already the evenings last number. Memorable moments there were though, including Julia playing trumpet whilst still holding her guitar on ‘Private Lawns’, Angus’ vocal on ‘Get Home’ (again a song with super lyrics) but most memorable of all a so laid back it was virtually horizontal version of the old Travolta/Olivia Newton John hit ‘You’re the one that I want’. Imagine Marilyn Monroe stepping up to the mike at JFK’s Birthday bash and instead of ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ singing this one? That’s about what it would have sounded like – JFK would have loved it as much as I did.

Julia Stone - fragile vocals

Julia Stone – fragile vocals

“We went for a walk by the river, and watched people playing football in the park. It’s really beautiful here in Bonn. You guys are really lucky” said Julia Stone at one point. And you know, she is right. Beautiful music, beautiful City, beautiful people. That’s what an evening of good folk music does for you. They could have played longer? Yes. They could have played better? No. I guess sometimes you have to accept quality over quantity.

Angus and Julia Stone-115

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