Ash Grunwald Live

Ash Grunwald Live At Tanks Art Centre

Andy Parkinson checks out Ash Grunwald Live at the Tanks..

There are certain elements when it comes to live music & it’s audiences that are inevitable. The sweaty bowels of a metal gig is generally going to attract an ample supply of bearded testosterone, draped in black. Find yourself at the latest commercial teen pop sensation & that age/gender ratio will most certainly be reversed. Over at Vertigo, odd’s are you’ll spot some sexy Cougars on the prowl, dancing away to songs from yesteryear. And if you wind up at one of Australia’s famed blues & roots artists shows, ala, JBT, Xavier Rudd, you’re going to discover a massive age demographic & a plethora of beautiful woman. Ash Grunwald live proved that he is certainly no exception to that rule, once again selling out Tanks Art Centre last Friday night. With a hefty ratio of gorgeous woman in the crowd, it was no surprise to overhear one female punter saying ‘Ash certainly brings the bitches’.

Kick starting the night as support, was Atherton born ‘Ray Danes’. Playing a solo set, with a sound inspired by Ed Sheeran, Ray did a great job, setting up the nights proceedings with a solid set of originals to the building crowd. With decent numbers up front digging his set, it appeared Ray already has a large local following. There’s no doubt he made them all proud, while also managing to engage a much larger audience & make plenty of new fans on the night too. Keep an eye out for him.

After a brief introduction & welcome from local artist & Tanks employee, Roz Pappalardo, Ash Grunwald entered the stage. Rather than opting to go with the big opening number, he sat down & casually replied to the cheering crowd with a simple & effective ‘Thank you’. The sincerity & humility in his voice, showcased once again his relaxed & humble nature. Proceeding to then have a yarn with the audience, he went on to thank the venue for it’s hospitality, stating how much he loves playing Tanks & making a special mention for local support act Ray Danes. He continued to have a casual chat to the audience, which was a great way of setting the scene for the intimate tone of the gig to follow.

Touring solo for the first time in years, his set up was minimal, yet highly effective. Featuring his guitar, effects pedal, bass drum, stomp box, harmonica & newly acquired electric gazoo – A new toy he couldn’t resist gloating about. Kick starting the night with a couple of good ol’ fashioned technical issues with the stomp box, the night really started hitting it’s straps by 3rd song in as he busted out early hit ‘Skywriter’. Telling an audience member mid song, that her ‘glow in the dark dress is epic’, he invited her on stage to dance. There was some slight hesitation on her part at first, no doubt on account of some excitable security workers. However, after further encouragement from Ash & some jeers towards security from punters, she was onstage. Before ya knew it, up to 20 more woman & a couple of blokes had joined her on stage, dancing to the tune of Skywriter. Whether intentional or not, this lifted the entire energy & vibe of the set & also added further confirmation, that few men can dance anywhere near to the abilities of Travolta & should remain off the stage. Saying that, props to em for having the balls to jump up have a go.

It took a good 5 minutes for the stage to clear as he went on to explain, “normally I’d be rocking to a setlist, but knowing the venue & the town, I wanted to keep it loose, & have some fun. Anyone got any requests?”.  Most occasions, when an artist expresses adulation to a town or venue, it comes across as contrived & as meandering to the crowd to boost a response. In Ash Grunwald’s case, it came across as completely genuine & the crowd seemed to feed off it, leading to a high level of energy sustaining itself throughout the set.

About an hour in, he excuses himself, saying that he’s headed side of stage for a moment. Joking that he’s quickly going for some drugs, he proceeds to laugh & confess, ‘In all honesty, I need to go pee, so how’s about we have a quick break & see ya back here in 5 minutes? I’ll make it up to you with an encore”. With the house lights coming on & a large contingent of the audience heading outside, it seemed like a bold move. To have the crowd by the balls like that & to bring the lights up can be a dangerous game. As he returned with another old favourite, ‘Mojo’, there was a noticeable change in the atmosphere, with half the crowd still outside having a smoke. Proving what a great performer he is though, it took all of 2 songs for the crowd to be restored to it’s capacity & the atmosphere building back to where it had been most of the evening.

Any fears that the night would finish with a weaker energy level were allayed, as he absolutely nailed a cover of ‘Gnarls Barkleys – Crazy’, before inviting the crowd on the stage once again during ‘Change’. Just as earlier in the night, the venue was stomping, as the stage was inundated with double the number of punters surrounding Ash  , (that alcohol sure is a wonderful drug). Finishing up with a rocking rendition of ‘Walking’, Ash Grunwald left the stage only to return for his encore, just as promised earlier in the evening. Finally succumbing to the crowd’s chants for it all night, he pulled from his debut ep, ‘Dolphin Song’. A random little tune based on his true encounter with  a pod of dolphins, protecting him from a shark, while surfing over a decade ago. Basically the song is the equivalent to John Farnham’s ‘Sadie’ & was great to hear it live after missing from his last few performances in Cairns. It was a fitting end to what was once again a great night of live music at Tanks. Special props need to be given to the man himself for treating us to a very special show & also his choice of beer, sipping away on some Coopers Pales late in the set. Ash Grunwald live was a winner. No doubt he’ll be back in the future & best of luck to him as he embarks on his first proper crack at the US market.

Dribble by Andy Parkinson

Ash Grunwald live pics – Wesley Mckeany