Marlon Williams & The Yarra Benders @ Prince Bandroom

bannerImage3Checked out this young New Zealander and his band last Friday. Because the venue’s parking was full and I wasted time looking for a street parking that would allow me to use a credit card, I missed out on the opening act. Honestly who’s got $10 in coins in their wallet? But maybe it was a blessing in disguise since I seem to get tired a lot more quickly these days standing at a concert.

The show was heaps of fun – I’ve paid a lot more for concerts that weren’t anywhere near as good. Williams’ greatest strength on his debut album was his extraordinary voice, in the vein of Elvis/Roy Orbison/Chris Isaak, which made me overlook the fact that his original songs, while good, aren’t quite great yet. In a live setting, in addition to his spine-tingling voice and the astonishing control he’s got over it, his other strength is the fact that he’s a damn great entertainer. He’s got the confidence and charisma of a performer who’s been doing this live stuff for decades, chatting comfortably with the audience and the rest of the band, who came and went and came back again depending on the song. It doesn’t hurt that he’s quite easy on the eye as well – a bit like a blend of his famous film namesake and a young Vince Vaughn maybe. The band was a tight unit throughout and did wonderful job on vocal harmonies; other than picks from the album they did some excellent country and bluegrass covers. The highlight of the evening was a stripped-down version of When I Was a Young Girl, a real vocal showcase that made even the chatty patrons at the bar pipe down.

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