It was a reflective Shane Nicholson who went on stage at Northcote Social Club on May 5th. Divorce was an oft mentioned topic as was his song writing history. Flanked by “fiddle genius” and “hunk of a man”, John Bedggood and at times support act Gretta Ziller, Nicholson’s act was pared down to a microphone and acoustic guitar. And that’s exactly how the audience liked it.
Nicholson is a story teller – both in song and live on stage. Across his albums all areas of his life are covered: family, escape, fantasy, loneliness and anxiety/depression. On Thursday he was happy to bare his soul to a Melbourne that he has missed and a town that he almost lived in back in the day. Melbourne is a favourite place to launch albums with Familiar Ghosts unveiled in 2006 and his most recent album Hell Breaks Loose launched at Caravan Club last year.
Nicholson was loyal to past albums playing from his 2008 Familiar Ghosts album, Faith and Science, Rattlin’ Bones (the hugely successful collaboration with then wife Kasey Chambers) and of course a selection from Hell Breaks Loose. [pullquote]Shane Nicholson was pure entertainment on Thursday night but with an integrity that left us all wanting more. [/pullquote]Punters were involved in song bingo where if they guessed the number in Shane’s head they could ask him to sing any of his songs. Hilarity ensued with iPhones and CD sleeves brokered for song lyrics for ditties such as Barcelona.
Nicholson and Bedggood both jumped off stage for a couple of songs surrounded by the appreciative crowd before finishing off the gig with a couple of encores. One of the songs played earlier was Hermannsburg, named after an Aboriginal mission town 140km west of Alice Springs. Nicholson’s affiliation with the town began when he was invited to stay there for a life changing ten days. The locals provided him with a sense of sanctuary and Nicholson’s creativeness was re-ignited as a result. A bond with the town has remained ever since.
Another story covered the writing of Single Fathers which was composed on a plane flight to Cairns the first time he left his kids to go on a tour as a single bloke. Nicholson’s sensitivity towards the male experience after a divorce is pronounced with lines such as, “No-one loves you more than your dad” highlighting the pain his children were inevitably subjected to. Finally a recurring theme in his songs are references to God and Jesus signaling a need to look beyond the superficial and to ask for a meaning that is conveyed in his music. Shane Nicholson was pure entertainment on Thursday night but with an integrity that left us all wanting more.
Find Shane Nicholson’s Tour Dates here
Hell Breaks Loose is available here