Since their debut in 2009, Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes have been one of Australia’s most popular and well-regarded alt-country acts. They won the Golden Guitar Award for Alt-Rock Album of the Year for 2014’s Black Coffee and have toured with leading Americana artists like Joan Armatrading and Steve Earle. After a successful trip to the UK last year, they’re now back for a short tour including a show at London’s intimate Green Note venue.
The five-piece band arrived on stage around 9.45 and opened their set with I Hope That I’m Wrong, the lead single from their new album Some Girls (Quite) Like Country Music. It’s a midtempo number which is driven by Bryan’s solid acoustic guitar-playing and really brought out the depth and richness in his voice, as well as his lovely harmonies with folk singer Imogen Clarke. I felt like the live performance also really brought out the #MeToo-influenced message of the song, with its honest yet optimistic lyrics and a sense of being called to act.
Throughout their performance the band showed off their range of musical influences, from the rocky, atmospheric A Portrait Of The Artist As A Middle Aged Man to the bittersweet The Basics Of Love and the twangy, upbeat Black Coffee. Bryan is particularly good at creating detailed images of his song’s characters and settings, and those came through particularly strongly in the live versions. I felt completely transported and almost as though I was sitting alongside these people in their hotel room or car, which added to the intimacy of the evening.
Bryan also regularly broke off to chat to the audience, telling stories about the songwriting process and touring, as well as joking about messing up on stage and the unusually sunny weather. He had the audience in stitches throughout (particularly during one story about his family) and came across as incredibly warm and charismatic on stage. Additionally, he and the other band members jammed with each other throughout the show and it was clear they’ve got great chemistry.
One of the highlights for me was Ballad Of A Young Married Man. A twist on the traditional murder ballad, it’s a great juxtaposition of a driving, folky melody with dark lyrics, and Bryan really drew out the narrator’s sense of regret and anguish. I also really liked Dugdemona, a swampy, sinister tale of a New Orleans voodoo priestess, and the old-school rock and roll of The King And I.
The band closed the show with You, Me And The Blues, a defiant tale of a couple of the run. It’s a fast-paced number that rattles along and is packed full of brilliant details and great imagery, such as likening a heartbeat to a hurricane. For me it was the most traditional country song they played and it certainly left me on a high.
Overall Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes put on an entertaining performance which gave the audience a taster of their back catalogue and showed the range of influences on their music, as well as their songwriting talents. Whilst it was a little on the short side for my liking and I would have liked to hear a little more from their latest record, on the strength of this performance and the audience’s reception I’m hopeful that they’ll be back soon to play some longer sets.
Set list: 1. I Hope That I’m Wrong 2. A Portrait Of The Artist As A Middle Aged Man 3. The Basics Of Love 4. Ballad Of A Young Married Man 5. Dugdemona 6. Black Coffee 7. The King And I 8. You, Me And The Blues Performance date: 5th July 2018