Angus and Julia Stone – Paradiso – 05.05.2010

I had never heard of Angus and Julia Stone before my friend and colleague Christina invited me to use a spare ticket she had for this gig. A quick listen on MySpace didn’t put me off so I took her up on the offer. They’re a sister and brother duo from Australia – he looks a bit like a stoned scarecrow; she like Alice back from Wonderland. The music itself was “nice”. Nothing to quicken the pulse. Some mellow sounds over acoustic guitars, a little piano, and some inobtrusive bass and drums. For the most part the lyrics passed me by.

There were two highlights for me: a song about “the windy city” where Julia went a bit wild on the trumpet, which was their last song of the main set, and their very last song called, I think, Santa Monica. Nothing else stood out for me, except for a completely pointless cover of “You’re the one that I want” from Grease. (Bafflingly, Julia sang this alone. They’re a duo, covering a duet, and she sang it solo. Strange indeed.)

This was the sort of gig where, if you knew the music ahead of time, and if it meant something to you, then I think you’d have been in heaven. But as someone coming to it cold, and someone that likes a lot of music in the same general genre, they really didn’t grab me. Just three stars (out of five).

Ben Howard, the support act, was rather more interesting. He plays the guitar really well, particularly when he slides it on to his lap and plays it more like a cross between a guitar, a drum and a zither. He sings in a slightly whiney voice – a bit like David Gray on a bad day – but his songs were quite good and the fantastic guitar playing alone was worth seeing and hearing.

Check him out on YouTube.