Last time I saw Marlon Williams he played a much smaller venue, but now this Kiwi boy has gone up in the world playing the beautiful Forum Theatre, a sold-out show no less! A promotion he thoroughly deserves.
Marlon Williams is something of an anomaly when it comes to concert-going for me. Usually I have to love the music quite a bit to bother seeing an artist or band live, especially in my current living-alone-with-mortgage state. While his music (a little bit of country, a little bit of Roy Orbison) is good and he has a few standout songs, I wouldn’t pay money to hear it live if it wasn’t lifted by Williams’ genuinely extraordinary voice and fantastic onstage charisma. He’s obviously a performer who loooves playing live. “I am overwhelmed,” he said at one point during the concert, before laughing and admitting cheekily, “Nah, I’m not. I love it up here.”
Since the Forum got rid of its sitting benches (boo), and I only recently recovered from an annoying energy-draining cold, I skipped the opening band and arrived at the theatre just before Williams and his band The Yarra Benders took the stage. They were just as excellent as the last time I saw them, with great musicianship and gorgeous vocal harmonies, knowing when to pick up the pace with something more upbeat after a string of plaintive slow ballads. I didn’t realise that this was actually a home-coming gig, since Williams had made Melbourne his home four years ago, though he hasn’t lost his endearing New Zealand accent. This comfortable home-town vibe prompted the band to play a song they’ve never played before, and Williams complimented Melbourne on its fine Vietnamese food, a remark he himself admitted was a bit random.
The crowd ranged from teenagers to sixty-year-olds and I’ve spotted a few rockabilly fashions here and there. The only minor annoyance was people around me talking in the middle of the songs, who I tried to block out as much as I could.