Dan Kelly + Liam Finn – The Shadow Electric, Melbourne (26/11/2015)

Dan Kelly may have been largely relying on his electric guitar in place of The Dream Band at The Shadow Electric, but with the help of loops, a variety of pedals and his own laconic personality, he was not in danger of missing them.

Joining him were Madeleine and Memphis Kelly, or ‘The Fabulous Kelly Sisters’ as they were introduced, on backing vocals and percussion.

The girls embraced the humour of the material, adding dance moves, smiles and the relaxed atmosphere of family to the stage, while their voices blending together and naturally complimented Dan’s own. Back to Brisbane and Everything’s Amazing were set standouts and old favourites Drunk On Election Night and Bindi Irwin’s Apocalypse Jam were met with affection.

Resplendent in a glittery black jacket, which helped to give the impression of a somewhat hairy Las Vegas performer, Liam Finn was obviously in his element onstage, casual and funny, but serious once the music began.

Joined by his longtime musical partner Eliza-Jane Barnes on backing vocals and autoharp, Finn stormed through selections from his three albums with charm and demented vigour. Employing a variety of pedals, looped backing tracks and drum loops, as well as jumping between electric guitar and drum kit, Finn’s comfortable stage manner and note perfect reproductions of his recordings revealed a honed showmanship and perfectionism to the 32 year old’s performance.

Having performed with Finn throughout his solo career, E.J.’s voice suited the material perfectly, often manipulating her own vocal effects live, as Finn likewise tampered with his own set of triggering devices. The result was a much larger sound than might be expected from two people, ranging from the full band sound of I’ll Be Lightning and FOMO albums to the layered loops and noises of last year’s fantastic The Nihlist album.

About midway through the set Finn and Barnes were joined by Jimmy Metherell, who helped fill out the sound with some well-placed Hofner bass, and was introduced to the crowd as ‘Jim Finn’. “I’m just trying to compete with the Kellys,” joked Finn, as if having a member of the Barnes family onstage was not enough.

Miracle Glance, with its electronic soundscape of beats and atmospheric use of vocal delays was a highlight, as were 4 Track Stomper and a 60’s psychedelic take on I’ll Be Lightning. Snug as Fuck was perhaps the only point where the live rendition didn’t quite live up to the recorded version, as it was delivered faithfully but without drums, leaving it a good groove without a beat.

As a double headliner it was an inspired pairing; both artists share an abstract sense of humour, a love of warped sound design, and beautiful melodies, “even if Dad and Paul beat us to it,” admitted Finn. As if to demonstrate their shared affection for weirdo-pop, Kelly joined the band for their encore of Gut Feeling by Devo, a raucous and joyful ending from The Finn/Kelly 2.0.

Written for Beat Magazine.

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