By Deb Kloeden, Adelaide correspondent in Melbourne
Review: Mark Lang, live at the National Theatre
Venue: The National Theatre, St Kilda, Melbourne. 3rd June 2016
Mark Lang is the lead singer of Melbourne’s Indie/Alt Pop darlings Skipping Girl Vinegar. On Friday night he performed solo (with back-up vocals from Hollie Joyce) at this exclusive show and recorded it live for a new solo album. The songs performed were predominately from Skipping Girl Vinegar’s album ‘The Great Wave’, but also spanned music from their 12-year history.
The stage was set in the 1920’s Victorian Era, National Theatre, St Kilda; a beautiful old theatre that emanated character. Mark designed the stage with props that spoke of his past. There were interesting, sculptural lamp shades, and other homely furnishings. They were symbolic icons arranged to create a theatrical set. His guitars and banjo were also carefully placed, each with it’s own personal, subtle spot light.
Mark explained that many of the songs he writes, are based on memories from his childhood, family visits and holidays, often to St Kilda, where his grandparents lived. So performing and recording this solo show in St Kilda was very symbolic for him. It symbolized a re-turning to his childhood memories. He used his story-telling skills to describe his youth and significant family members. He told of his current home and his great connection with the ocean. He described surfing with his young son and sailing with his grandfather. By the end of the concert, I felt as if I knew the whole family. These stories introduced the songs he performed.
Mark played songs from all 3 of the Skipping Girl Vinegar albums. He played 6 of the 11 songs from ‘The Great Wave’, their most recent album, released in 2015. These included the lively, ‘Dance Again’, ‘Lost in the Heads’ (inspired by the sound and warning of a fog horn) and ‘Lay with Me’, a melodious folk song.
From the first album, ‘Sift the Noise’, he played 3 songs, including ‘One Chance’, their first ever single.
Two new songs were revealed. ‘Ride On’ was the second song of the set and introduced Hollie’s harmonious vocals. The other new song is still untitled. From their second album, ‘Keep Calm Carry the Monkey’, Mark played 3 tracks. One of these was ‘Here She Comes’, a nice boppy, sing-along song.
‘Heart Does Ache’ was his official final song, (before encore). It was a poignant song about the final words of his grandmother.
Mark managed to cover all the emotional senses with his songs written from the heart. The pure acoustic sound of the solo performance made them more personal, without the bigger sound of the band. I look forward to the release of this live, solo album and feel privileged to have been present at the recording.
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