Richard Buckner – The Lyric (Melbourne, Australia)
It’s always dangerous to build up one’s expectations, because disappointment, when it follows, will always be more acute. When, however, you allow yourself to indulge the luxury of great expectations and you are not disappointed, music is never more sweet.
Richard Buckner, whether on his own, with minimal accompaniment or with the majority of Australian band Love Me in tow, did not even allow the mere specter of disappointment to rear its head. He was compelling from start to finish, with a voice that filled this great venue and a presence it could barely contain. And then there are the songs, which are so honest, so powerful and so affecting that Buck’s Fizz could probably record them and emerge with a small measure of vicarious substance.
Commencing with “Blue and Wonder”, Buckner performed the majority of his wonderful Bloomed album, played with his phrasings, told his stories and completely captivated the crowd, many of whom were clearly ready to be wowed. He also unveiled a host of uniformly excellent new songs, including a stunning a cappella take on the “perfect mountain death song” that suggests Bloomed is anything but a fluke.
Highlights abounded, but the beautifully desolate “This Is Where” and “Desire” and the full-band version of “Rainsquall” spring readily to mind. Finishing the set proper with the harrowing suicide narrative “22” (“an upbeat closer,” he joked), Buckner returned shortly after to reinforce his status with a great cover of Pavement’s gut-wrenching “Here”. If you missed that because you were moving your car out of the 1:00 am curfew car park across the road, well, shame on you.