From the moment they graced the stage, Tinpan Orange had captivated the hearts and ears of those that were there to hear them playing to a sold out crowd at the intimate Newtown venue The Vanguard on Friday night. Vocalist Emily Lubitz didn’t waste any time launching into the title track of the band's latest album Love is a Dog. Inspired by the writings Of Charles Burkowski, the song tells the tale of a broken love affair. Stripped right back to just a guitar and vocals, the three musicians - Emily, her brother Jesse and Alex Burkoy - displayed just how well the three of them connect on stage. It was raw and intimate.
"Rich Man," one of the highlights of the record, ended with a spontaneous instrumental outro, demonstrating just why Alex has been labeled a violin virtuoso. I was left in awe, as I witnessed the speed and skill of the man's fiddle playing. His passion matched with that of Jesse’s guitar playing was a frenzied battle in which both were to come out on top.
"Leopards" received the most amount of attention from the crowd. For the first time (that I know of) The Vanguard truly went acoustic. With Emily taking the lead and unplugging her guitar, the band made their way down to the dining crowd and set up stage. Standing on a chair the audience was corralled into a sing-along.
Apart from songs off the new album, the band also played some of their earlier works for their most diehard fans like "Barcelona," "Birdy" and "Song for Frida Kahlo". The encore was a sweet cover of Hank William’s "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)", a song that invited me to close my eyes and instantly transported me to a place where I danced underneath the stars.
Tinpan Orange played an astonishing set. We were taken on a journey of secrets, lies, love and passion. Each song was introduced with quirky descriptions and discussions, like "Who would play you in a biopic?" (for the curious, Emily would have Cate Blanchet, Jessie – Russell Crowe and Alex – Jackie Chan). All of this was done with boundless humour, warmth and sincerity. I was completely blown away by Tinpan Orange's performance and the only thing that they could have been done better was play longer.