ALL OUR EXES LIVE IN TEXAS + Ports @ Metropole 18/06/17 (Live Review)
Photo by Cybele Malinowski
All Our Exes Live In Texas performed at Hotel Metropole in Katoomba, NSW on 18 June, 2017, supported by Northern Irish quartet Ports.
Those familiar with Ancient Greek mythology, particularly Homer’s Odyssey, or its contemporary retelling in the Coen brothers’ comedy film O Brother Where Art Thou, will be aware of Sirens. These chimerical songstresses resided on a remote island in the Mediterranean and their enchanting music and voices lured passing sailors in, only to shipwreck on the rocky coastline of their island.
Listening to the bewitching voices and songs of All Our Exes Live In Texas, one can imagine making a divergent path to better appreciate their mellifluous melodies, heedless of the consequences.
I don’t imagine the band preside over shipwrecks and drowned sailors, but their dulcet harmonies were enough to entice the citizens of the Blue Mountains out to Katoomba’s Hotel Metropole, despite the winter chill. Not once but twice; the first concert sold out and another sell-out performance was hastily added.
Opening for the female quartet was Ports, an Irish male quartet from Derry, on a 14-dates national tour with All Our Exes. The band, enjoying their first Australian appearances, are musically similar to their hosts – melodic traditional folk accompanied by four-part vocal harmonies.
Ports comprise of two acoustic guitars, electric bass and percussion and the band proclaims their lyrical influences derive from classical poets like John Keats and Percy Shelley. Their songs are slow and lilting, nearer contemporary Anglo-American folk than traditional Irish melodies, despite an impromptu audience singalong of Danny Boy during a tuning break.
The Ports’ star is in ascendance: in October 2016 their song, The Far and Few Between, from their debut album The Devil is a Songbird, was chosen as the theme song for Tourism Northern Ireland’s television adverting campaign. Vocalist-bassist Steven McCool revealed ironically that this is despite (or perhaps because of) the fact the song contains the lyric ‘the rain falls harder than ever.’
This success comes on the back of their debut single, Gameplay being selected for the MTV teenage drama Awkward, although the band joked that unless they sold their CDs on the merchandise stall, they couldn’t afford a return flight home.
Another song in their set, I’d Let You In, was reinterpreted by McCool’s five-year-old son from ‘I’d let you in my heart again’ to I’d let you in my cardigan’, so the band obligingly adapt some lines of the chorus to this child’s perspective on love.
Photo by Cybele Malinowski
All Our Exes Live In Texas, fresh from supporting Oz rockers Midnight Oil on tour in the USA, bounded onto the stage and inquired if any of the audience were still present from the night before and hadn’t found time to go home.
Accordionist Elana Stone revealed that she was wearing flat-heeled shoes during sound-check, and now in high heels, the microphone was too low, before the band launched into their debut single Tell Me, from their crowd-funded debut album When We Fall.
The song’s video clip, listed by Double J Radio as one of Australia’s top ten music films of 2014, features an hilarious nose-picking scene that gives you an idea of the lilting ladies’ wicked sense of humour, which transmits infectiously from the stage as they finish each other’s jokes and embellish witty anecdotes.
For example, one revealed that if a band member is hurt by a declining relationship, it affected them all:
“When one falls, we all fall..”
“We fall over like mermaids!”
“Or a chain gang!”
The humour continued as they dismissed troublesome ex-boyfriends and joked about being unable to keep apace during a drinking session with support band Ports, nor understand their strong Northern Irish accents, “We just smile a lot and say, ‘okay, take my wallet’!”
Singer-guitarist Katie Wighton read aloud a card sent to them by two young fans, in the audience that night, and revealed that they were known to one of the young fans as the Boundary Road girls, coincidentally her song and the fourth single from their When We Fall album.
The night’s finale involved an a cappella rendition of Goodnight Darling Don’t Cry by Katie Wighton, sung with the guys from Ports before they mingled with the audience.
~ Alec Smart