Jeff Lang

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Page last updated September 7 2011


Reviews


This page contains a collection of live and other reviews collected from music press and websites wordwide.

Jeff Lang @ East Brunswick Club, Melbourne – 11 September 2010
Review: Ben Connolly - www.lifemusicmedia.com

Jeff Lang was not always the teller of disturbed tales accompanied by face-melting blues guitar shredding. There was time – in the heady post-grunge days – way back at the beginning of this 15-year-long and counting career, that Lang appeared to fancy himself as a bit of a fringe-rock crooner. His then long locks and fresh face even graced morning television and he seemed always just on the verge of tipping into the mainstream proper.

While his blues-folk-roots-rock brethren (The John Butler Trio, Xavier Rudd, et al) watered down their origins after initially making the cross-over and opting for the high-exposure, high- sales paths, Lang instead maintained a steady personal path of discovery through the back alleyways which make up his self-described 'disturbed folk'.

Along the way there have been excursions into deep south blues, rousing sea shanties, psychedelic-laden folk-pop and, more recently, 'world music' (with a collaboration with Malian kora player Mamadou Diabante and Indian tabla player Bobby Singh). His latest album, Chimeradour, stayed true to its Greek- mythology based namesake and married them together, but with subtle nod back to the earlier straight-rock days with some crunchy numbers laying a solid base layer.

As he entered the sparse stage, half of which housed drummer Danny McKenna's sprawling kit, Lang's audience at inner-Melbourne's East Brunswick Club told as much of a story of this journey as much as his nine studio albums and countless live recordings. Up the back in the half-empty room swayed a middle-aged couple rediscovering romance; next to them bopped and whooped an older gent swiftly imbibing himself of the groove and grog (while testing the patience of his good lady wife); up the front a couple of inner-city hippies battled for dread lock supremacy; while a man with an impressive full beard tucked a supermarket green bag under his arm whilst balancing a stubby of Coopers. This was a converted flock and Lang, now sans-beard but still clothed in his surely trade-marked brown suit with the wide lapels, screamed every inch the pastor.

Famously working without a set-list, Lang at first cranked out a trio showcasing what appeared to be a wonderful new toy – a rescued National Resonator guitar. The instrument – a sort of half-sizedDobro – exuded a natural, yet unmistakably metallic tone and added a fuzzy depth early on. A double-time version of "The Road Is Not Your Only Friend" highlighted the restrained dog-like feel ofMcKenna's drumming (the sounds of which were particularly humming thanks to the soundman for the night: ex-John Butler Trio drummer Jason McGann). Earlier highlights included "I Don't Like Him Being In Here", a tale of parental infidelity told through the eyes of an 8-year-old child, and the chugging "The Save", a morose story of love lost and chased set to the beat of the Indian Pacific railway.

At that stage of the evening, Lang cracked out the Weissenborn lap-slide guitar for a trio of geographic numbers – "London", "Lubbock Texas" and "Half a Tank of Hope" (partly telling the story within an Anchorage hotel room). And while it was clear the converted were up for a long night,Lang took no time in cranking the set to its peak – a duo of seriously rock-pose worthy numbers in "Slow Rooms and Fast-Blurred Faces" and "Make Me Believe" (complete with a "Highway To Hell" interlude) harking back to those heady days when rock prevailed. Up the front of the room, and under the watchful eye of the pastor in full flight, the encore closer of "Edge of Light" was something else to behold, with a renewed fresh faced Lang almost visibly breathing the fire of the mythical chimera and adding a touch of venom to the strings. It'd be a tough ask to find an Australian singer-songwriter more in touch with his craft in this era, and it's without doubt a joy to be in his fold.

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Jeff Lang @ The Basement - Friday September 10
Jordan Smith, The Brag (Sydney), Issue 380, September 20th 2010

Around 10.30pm Jeff Lang pops out from behind the curtain in a dapper jacket and flat cap, followed by a twinkling-eyed, bushy-bearded member of Ned Kelly's gang – who actually turns out to be his drummer, Danny McKenna. In front of the dimly-lit red curtain the two look like relics of a forgotten era when nobody had a credit card and everyone loved the blues.

The duo open with "Always Moving", from one of Lang's earlier albums, Cedar Grove (back when he still had loads of hair). Only three minutes in they prove to be musicians of the highest calibre – the connection between the two is palpable, as complex rhythms are thrown back and forth across the stage, remaining in perfect sync during each (seemingly) spontaneous crescendo or solo. They keep the tempo thundering along for the next few tracks, producing so full a racket that it's difficult to believe there's only two of them, Lang making up for his absentee bassist Grant Cummerford by tuning his guitar down to growling depths mid-song.

Throughout the epic two-and-a-half hour set, Lang employs three different guitars to fold over thirteen albums and fifteen years of music. Highlights from his latest album "Chimeradour" included "Two Worlds" (during which Lang's two hands seem to dance along the steel lap guitar independently of each other) and the more savage "I Don't Like Him Being In Here".

It was a very appreciative crowd crammed in under the Basement pipes, with a distinctly Aussie flavour easily discerned by raucous volleys of "yiiieeeew"s from all angles. Lang plays up to the crowd from time to time with his quiet humour. "Look at him," he nods to McKenna "banging away like a feral beast …"

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Jeff Lang @ Mr Kyps, Poole, UK
10th February 2010 by Emma Sutherland

A cold February evening is made warmer by a superb performance from the Aussie legend that is Jeff Lang.

Another regular and hugely popular musician who is always welcomed back by the Mr Kyps crowd with open arms, he dives into his set and stays there complete with a shiny guitar and a sharp wit.

A set list including thumping beats and soulful, heart warming songs was just what the doctor ordered tonight and no-one was disappointed; The Road is not Your Only Friend had many a head bobbing and foot tapping from the audience. The song is a real builder; a gentle wave that climbs until it reaches a huge crescendo, making us all wish we had the flair and the talent to produce such a wall of sound. Five Letters pulled the audience into the depths of the song, making us all feel like we were right there in the song with Jeff.

It is always a real treat to be part of Jeff’s audience; some cheeky comedy in between songs as well as passion in every line of his work makes it an event that you simply don’t want to leave.

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Jeff Lang @ Her Majesty's Theatre, Adelaide
17th May 2008 by PhilippaA - FasterLouder.com.au

Jeff Lang has been releasing albums for the past fourteen years but chances are your completely oblivious as to who he is as he has managed to stay under the music radar.

Although his songs, which all contain the same lyrical themes of long distance love, winding roads and his upbringing, don't leave much to be desired, Lang's gifted ability to play the guitar cannot be denied.

Lang was in Adelaide to promote his latest musical offering Half Seas Over at Her Majesty's Theatre. This venue was ideal as it provided a sense of intimacy which is required to fully appreciate Lang's playing.

Lang and his young bass player Grant Cumerford took to the stage right on time and immediately began performing. The opening song was My Mother Always Talked to Me taken from the new album. As Lang sits on a chair picking at the slide guitar rested on his lap it is easy to become instantly enthralled in how he manages to make something so complex look so effortless. His voice is not as in tune as his guitar however with Lang hitting some rather awkward notes.

His voice had warmed up though by the time he performed Five Letters with Lang showing that his voice could almost be as powerful as his guitar. Well almost. This song was one of the highlights of the night as Lang made his acoustic guitar sound like a powerful electric rock guitar. Each chord struck pulsated through the floor and up the audience's spines. Another stand out was The House Carpenter where the talented guitarist would go from singing acappella, with his voice filling the entire theatre, to playing loud and aggressive guitar riffs.

Crowd involvement was encouraged with Lang getting the audience to clap their hands and sing a long. He even took the time to give a little bit of background information to some of his songs for anybody unfamiliar with his music.

The duration of the hour and a half long concert showcased Lang's ability to not just play the average acoustic guitar, but also the slide guitar and a tin guitar that was made right here in Adelaide.

Lang is predominately a guitarist as his songs contain some lyrics with a lot of guitar solos where he and his bassist would just jam for eight or more minutes straight. Many songs are not memorable because of Lang's singing but more so because of how he closes his eyes and plays the guitar as if he is possessed by the music. He focuses so much on listening to his guitar and feeling each chord that he himself is rather surprised when each song ends.

Jeff Lang's music may not appeal to all audiences but he is definitely worth seeing live if you are a fan of the guitar. You will be absolutely blown away by the sheer talent he exudes on his humble instruments.

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Chris Whitley Tribute
Corner Hotel, Richmond, August 20th 2007

I was going to have to move mountains to get there, but I knew it would be worth it. A line-up featuring the cream of Melbourne's tight-knit blues scene was reason enough to make the effort. But they wouldn't be playing their own material. Between the recording and the release of the CD Dislocation Blues, Jeff Lang had lost a kindred spirit with the passing of Texan ‘bluesician' and storyteller Chris Whitley. Friends of Lang and fans of Whitley gathered to honour the late star.

If Whitley was missing in voice and guitar, he was certainly there in spirit and song. Each of the acts (solo or in ‘mix & match' line-ups) performed their versions of a couple of his songs. Lang performed songs from Dislocation Blues with Grant Cummerford (bass) and Ashley Davies (drums) who both had the privilege of recording the album with the awesome duo. With Max Crawdaddy as MC, we were treated to a veritable banquet, as act after act rolled out to sing and play united in respect and bittersweet joy. Some had known Whitley, some had admired his work from a distance and others were just learning of his immense talent. Lang kicked off the music, followed by Monique Brumby, Downhill's Home, Jaimi Faulkner, Nick Barker, Carus and Suzannah Espie. Chris Wilson, accompanied by Shane O'Mara's impassioned guitar playing, surprised one and all with his version of Whitley's live recorded version of Kraftwerk's ‘The Model'. We heard about Whitley's admiration of Ian Collard's harmonica work before the Collard Greens & Gravy frontman blew up a storm. Next to Lang, guitarist Matt Walker's style probably came closest to representing the missing Whitley on the night. Rebecca Barnard tugged at our heartstrings as she told of seeing the Texan play in the US. They later found themselves sharing a train carriage with him but shyly decided against saying ‘G'day – Love ya work.' Barnard's song about the experience was touching. With partner O'Mara, she delivered a showstopper with Whitley's ‘Automatic Love'. As at the Hurricane Katrina ‘Love Bucket' fundraiser, there was a lotta love in the bandroom.

Despite the great stuff happening on stage, the most captivating view in the venue was off to the side on a big screen. Silent footage of the man himself played throughout the night. Video clips and still photographs showed Whitley's finely sculpted features, framed by hair at varying lengths, as he sang his heart out and teased out magic from beautiful, shining guitars. At times, the images appeared to be in synch with the real-time performances. It was sensual and surreal – haunting and poetic. To end the show, Lang sat alone with his lap steel. Emotion ran close to the surface as he played Whitley's poignant ‘Dirt Floor' before a rousing encore with title track ‘Dislocation Blues'. He'd already thanked everyone. His final words at song's end, as his glanced at the big screen, were for his friend: "Chris Whitley, man! Chris F***ing Whitley."

Chris Lambie - Forte Magazine

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Romain Decoret
Paris, France

Guitarist Rview

Db Magazine Jeff Lang and friends
Space Theatre, Adelaide, Fri 23 July 2004

Welcome to our guitar store," said Jeff Lang at the start of his Adelaide gig to launch the new CD ‘Whatever Makes You Happy', and it certainly looked a bit that way. A full stage of approximately 10 guitars plus other instruments greeted a full Space Theatre - or vice versa - at the start of a long and highly entertaining set by Lang plus special guests. As promised, there was no support act as such but a group of musicians and singers willing to share the limelight with each other, although there was no doubt who the main attraction was!

Jaff Lang and FriendsAt various points, Matt Walker, Chris Finnen, Tim Hall and the three-piece Git would take centre stage for a few of their own songs with Lang as accompanist, then the roles would be reversed for a while, in various combinations at different times. This ensured a variety in paces and styles, and made for an unpredictable but unfailingly enjoyable gig.

One feature for me was that each song over the two hours-plus performance was easy to enjoy and appreciate even if they were unfamiliar beforehand. Naturally, a number of songs from the new CD were featured such as The Save and By Face Not Name, the latter benefiting greatly from Git's backing vocals. Their own mini-sets were more country in nature and included fun songs like Car Outside The Bar and Hawaiian War Chant. Matt Walker obviously had many fans in the audience; one of his highlights was You Put A Spell On Me with its mellow rootsy groove. Chris Finnen provided his typically unique guitar work on songs such as the straight blues 44 Years and percussion on various other pieces, combining both on one particular instrumental.

The glue holding it all together though was the understated virtuosity of Jeff Lang Whether playing acoustic, electric, slide, National or lap steel guitars, his style looks effortless but sounds extraordinary; it's also interesting to note that he doesn't use a plectrum but just a thumbpick, making it occasionally look like he's playing rhythm when it's actually one of those solos that finds its own twists and turns within the music. The fact his songwriting is equally strong is an indication of the depth of his performances.

The sound was clean and nicely loud, and the audience was attentive and responsive without going to extremes. Even the tipsy dancing in front of the stage at the end was more an amusement than a distraction! Special mention must go to Grant Cummerford who supplied unwaveringly solid basswork on all songs, and equally consistent drummer Angus Diggs. This was a gig with a convivial atmosphere, kind of like being among friends. It just so happens the main attraction were some very talented friends indeed.

Michael Hunter
Photo: Julie Richards

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Jeff Lang "Whatever Makes You Happy" CD Launch
The Corner Hotel - 30 July 2004

Nu Country's web mistress and Tonkgirl ventured to the launch of Jeff Lang's new CD Whatever Makes You Happy at the Corner on Friday night.

We arrived at around 9.30 when the launch was in full swing. GIT were up on stage rocking out songs from their repertoire exhibiting their usual verve and sassiness along with their wonderful harmonies.

Jeff Lang emerged to sing "Rain on Troy". Throughout the show he was supported by a band comprising several well-known artists such as Tim Hall (formerly of The Whitlams) and Matt Walker. Grant Cummerford played superb string bass. Each guest artist was given the stage at regular intervals which added variety to the evening's entertainment.

Jeff handed over the stage to Tim Hall who performed two songs from his recent solo album No Dogs, No Disneyland.

GIT returned to the stage and performed two more songs, both from their album Flowers. Was it my imagination or were they sounding more rock 'n roll than usual.

Jeff Lang performed another song, the title of which escapes me, before introducing Matt Walker who gave a rendition of "You Put a Spell On Me". Jeff Lang played lap steel guitar, Tim Hall played harmonica and GIT provided backing vocals. This was followed by Jeff Lang singing "Everything is Still" and "The Road is Not Your Only Friend", both from his new album.

The stage was then abandoned while Jeff took a short break. Crowd attention shifted to the other stage where Headbelly Buzzard were providing the only "twang" of the night, playing lively country tunes like "Blackeyed Susie".

The other stage was reoccupied when Headbelly finished and Jeff returned to do an acoustic set, accompanying himself on lap steel and contriving to make a sitar like sound out of it. It was reminiscent of the style of Harry Manx.

He was soon joined by the rest of the band and continued on the lap steel, either singing his own songs or playing support for his friends.

A highlight was "By Face Not Name" where GIT provided backing vocals. On the CD Whatever Makes You Happy this song is performed as a duet with Susannah Espie.

Thus the evening continued, Jeff Lang singing most of the songs from Whatever Makes You Happy - "You Should Have Waited", "Switchblade", "I Still See You"," Rejected Novelist Fails Again", "Too Easy to Kill" (about America's obsession with guns) and ended the session with a Tom Waits song "Big In Japan" with GIT.

Enthusiastic applause drew him out for an encore of two songs, "Gina" and "Burn the Bridge" the last with just Jeff Lang and the string bass player Grant Cummerford.

The show lasted for approximately 3 hours. The venue was packed with enthusiastic fans who were treated to an evening of great music, both blues and rock with a dash of twang from GIT and Headbelly Buzzard.

Being unfamiliar with Jeff Lang's work, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by his performance and his skills on guitar. Thanks to a young man standing close by in the crowd I was able to find out the titles to most of the songs.

Review and photos by Anne Sydenham 2004

Jeff Lang
Jeff Lang
Git
Git

Headbelly Buzzard
Headbelly Buzzard

Tim Hall
Tim Hall

Matt Walker
Matt Walker

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Guy Clarke and opener Jeff Lang Combine for powerful concert
Anchorage Daily News - October 14, 2003

HOT: The show was one of Whistling Swan's best ever.

What's with the audience lately? The show's supposed to start at 7:30 p.m., and at 7:28 the room is still practically empty. Then, two minutes later, it's like the Wasilla Wal-Mart on PFD day, and everybody's talking and laughing and standing in the aisles, visiting their friends from work. It's the weekend, for criminy sake. Can't they wait till Monday?

Anyway, all commentary on the fashionably late imperative of Anchorage's listening audience aside, Whistling Swan's presentation Saturday night in the Discovery Theatre must rate as one of its very best.

Guy Clark and opening act Jeff Lang delivered the goods in spades, leaving the audience feeling there was nowhere else they should possibly have been that night but there.

Lang, just in from a gig in Kodiak, was the last-minute choice for an opener. The singer and slide guitarist ripped into his short, electrifying set with incendiary passion, grabbing the crowd by the throat with the screaming, moaning, keening steel strings of his custom lap-style guitar.
The young Australian spared the audience the often-tedious folksy patter as he retuned his guitars in no time flat before attacking the next song with his clear, falsetto-embellished voice and breathtaking, fancy finger work. From high-velocity fusillades of red-hot sonic needles to long, loping lines of bluesy desolation, Lang blew the crowd away.

As Clark walked onto the stage, it was obvious this was a special event. The audience embraced the master songwriter with an appreciation reserved for those artists who have stumbled into that rarefied status known as "national treasure." Looking a bit like a cross between Kris Kristoferson and Johnny Cash, Clark appreciatively surveyed the theater. "This is nice, real nice, compared to some of the joints we play," he said. Standing next to sideman Verlon Thompson, the two men in black then proceeded to hold the stage for 90 minutes of songs about love, hard luck and homegrown tomatoes.

Like fellow Texans Jerry Jeff Walker and Townes Van Zandt, Clark has supplied hits for scores of country artists over the past 30 years, but seeing and hearing him sing his own songs is the best way to appreciate his work. Clark's gravelly voice and handsome, road-worn face aptly express the raw pathos and direct simplicity of his material, a delicate balance of literate references and unadorned imagery.

With Clark mixing up selections old and new, the audience received a full survey of his song list. "Soldier's Joy" and "Magnolia Wind" from his latest album flowed between familiar classics like "L.A. Freeway" and "Desperados Waiting for a Train." "Ain't No Money in Poetry" and "Picasso's Mandolin" extolled the virtues of following your muse, while "Out in the Parking Lot" gave us a poignant slice of contemporary Americana.

Sometime past mid-show, Clark stepped back into the shadows to listen and laugh as Thompson did a little set of his own. An accomplished singer-songwriter, Thompson also is a witty man and provided an amusing interlude by teasing the woman signing at the side of the stage. Thompson's own "In the Middle of Proud Mary," a chilling story of a trucker's demise, was one of the evening's high points.

After another batch of songs and a well-deserved encore, the duo returned to do a moving song about the final day of an old wino whose life was ruined by a Dallas whore.
"Doesn't seem like it should be over," Clark said before singing his last song, genuinely surprised at how the time flew by, "Y'all wanna go somewhere?"

By Mark Muro

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Festival D'été De Québec
Le Soleil, Quebec, July 8th 2002

A Guitarist Blessed By The Gods

Like Jake and Elwood, the Blues Brothers in the film of the same name, I saw the light last night - and no, it wasn't a movie projector. I had a revelation in the form of an incredible guitarist and formidable stylist blessed by the gods: Jeff Lang.

The tiny Australian--he's barely five feet tall - is hardly imposing in his jeans and shirt tossed over his T-shirt. But when he picks up his guitar to alternately caress it or manhandle it it's another story. He's not bound by musical styles: rock, blues and country are just conventions he takes pleasure in demolishing.

Alone with his acoustic guitars, accompanied only by his stomping foot, he manages to evoke the wide open spaces of his native land with the barest of suggestion. He plays light as a breeze, but can slam you with a ten-ton riff the next second.

Don't go thinking that Lang is a supersonic speed demon. He prefers the intensity and resonance of his carefully chosen notes. He explores sonorities as eclectic as they are stunning: he lets inspiration hit and follows where the notes lead him. He could be more Hendrix than Jimi himself; his playing is that strong, in every sense of the word. What fingers! What a guitarist! But as talented as he is, Jeff Lang is above all an artist in service to the song, and a singer endowed with beautiful clear voice, warm and rich.

We can play the comparison game- Ben Harper, Neil Young, Chris Whitley, Richard Thompson - but when all is said and done, Lang's only reference point is himself, a unique singer-songwriter-guitarist who follows his own path.

We were blessed that night, all of us in the crowd watching, but maybe Jeff Lang is possessed by a different spirit. It was Bob Brozman who said at the end of his last duet with Jeff, "This guy plays like the devil..."

Éric Moreault

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Jeff Lang Bares His Sohl

If I hadn't have seen it and heard it with my own eyes and ears I would not have believed it. It all started with a steel guitar. I mean literally a guitar made of steel - light bouncing off it like a chrome sun. And then the voice came, in perfect harmony with the guitar, or unison, drawing the crowd in. Song after song and the agenda was the same - absolutely mind-blowing guitar work, from slide to full throttle blues bashing and back again... build, release, build, release... as it was with a breath-taking drop B song mid first set about bar brawls and bravado, sliding and surging to the sensational ending. Final song of Set 1 and he let fly with a raging guitar solo to end all guitar solos.... "burn that bridge" .... he certainly did.

After a "short pause for the cause" Jeff returned, seated, with a change of instrument - a sitar-like acoustic slide guitar. What followed was some fellowship through mellowship as Jeff serenaded us through his slide repertoire and, customarily, exhibited his chops. He winded down the evening with another salute to his influences - firstly the Bob Dylan tribute that had to come. Lovingly played and given the Jeff Lang treatment he easily carried on the tradition of Dylan covers that sound better than the original.

A Tom Waits number was chosen to finish us off. A typically brooding stalker that ended in a distortion fest of swelling, pinched harmonics and feedback frenzy while the crowd clapped, whistled and whooped it‚s approval ... Jeff Lang‚s performance was so moving, so relentlessly pleasing, so effortlessly impressive it‚s going to be a long time before I‚ ll find something so completely entertaining.

Ben Arnold, Nexus Magazine.

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Raw dose of guitar genius Jeff Lang Governor Hindmarsh, Sunday

Anyone would think Jeff Lang had once lived inside a guitar. He knows it so well. Dressed in a black cloak and a green pork-pie hat he seated himself on stage at the Gov and looked down lovingly at the acoustic guitar resting sideways on his lap. And the master of "folk" innovation began to play. again, that's what makes seeing Jeff Lang live such a smooth experience, classy, but with a unique energy that. brings, a, dynamic. sound to his music.

Sliding, picking and caressing the guitar, he epitomised delicate precision playing. Then, from out of mowhere, he roared into explosive thythm, bleeding the guitar of every note. But at the eak of these fiery outbursts, the sounds became too jarring, and its powerful impact was destroyed by too much on the volume knob. But then again, that's what makes seeing Jeff lang live such an experience. He's smooth, classy, but with a unique energy tht brings a dynamic sound to his music. His voice is effortless when reachng the harder notes, and convincing when conveying the stories in his cleverly crafted songs.

Lang opened with the moody ballad We Don't Ask, setting the night up for a showcase of his energetic talents. But it was halfway through his performance when he burst into life, playing Elvis is Still Dead. It was hard to belive the sounds were produced from one guitar. And the crowd of about 150 agreed, raising hands in applause, saluting passionate folk music at it best.

Jonathan Hart

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Jeff Lang + John Butler The Basement
Sydney - 21 September 2000

I'd seen Jeff Lang earlier this year at the Blue Mountains Folk Festival (the "Stairway To Heaven" gig), and have been singing his praises ever since to people who've never heard of the man. They'd always say after one of my hand-waving complimentary ramblings, "I'll have to come and see him next time he's around". Well. The Olympic period brought Jeff back to Sydney so I was not letting my good mate Tim go back on his word so I bought him a ticket for his birthday. The Basement itself, if you've never been there, is fabulous. A really low-hung ceiling with pipes and PA leads dangling in masses, and cigar-stained regal red walls plastered with innumerable famous musician's signed posters. There's a stage in the "pit" in the middle, and bar stools around a sort of balcony surrounding the pit. The place has a very midnight in the city vibe floating around. Anyway. We settle with a couple of VB's ($6 each - eek!) after some pool and a feed, and John Butler takes the stage. He looks like he's from Byron Bay - goatee-d and lanky, with hemp jeans and a pirate shirt and dreads down to the small of his back. He sits with two amplified acoustic guitars (a 6 and a 12 string) and a stomp box and begins. Wow. This man dishes out a storm of guitar energy and vocal passion which is pretty hard to topple. He plays what Tim described as "Hippy Thrash Folk Jazz", a pretty good summation. Really really passionate stuff, with a voice somewhere between Anthony Keidis and Jimi Hendrix. Particular highlights were the song "Don't Wanna Be Losing My Cool No More" and most essentially, the instrumental piece he played about halfway through the set, I can't remember the name. Fucking unbelievable. And he's got a crazy in-between songs manner, where he will just ramble to the microphone whatever's going through his head ("Get a life, you victim. Go out and make your own good fortune"..."That's a bit heavy for you, it's reality for me, so we'll just deal with it and anyway I'm talking too much and you're probably wishing I'd hurry up and do the song like I was going to do five minutes ago and here we go...") Go see him headlining somewhere for sure. He's amazing, strange, infectiously talented.

And then, Jeff Lang hits the stage with his drummer Angus. His first 20 minutes or so is played on his lapsteels with impeccable artistic twang and slide, giving us songs of an almost filmic beauty and a grinding passion, mostly new and unrecorded material. "All Fall Down" or whatever it's called is an absolute magic song. Jeff's voice is high, clear, amazingly strong but tactfully flaunted, so you have just enough of a taste of what a beautiful range he has, without being given too much to swallow. He opens the set with probably my favourite song of Jeff's, which I've only heard twice and I think it's called "Some Memories Never Die", a major tuned slide song which is like a road movie theme crossed with Bernard Butler, with the lyrics and fretwork to drown the latter. That's his softer side. After a while, he stands up and grabs his Dobro, forces it into some deep tuning, and launches into "Too Easy To Kill" which goes off like a fucking rocket. You have never heard one man and a guitar and a drummer make a sound like that - enormous dexterity on the fretboard, and a rolling good song. And you should have heard the solo. Screaming steel overdrive and this short man with sideburns leaping back and forth, cutting the dobro to pieces with his energy. And how about that Angus on the drums - inventive style (pots and pans included in the drum kit) and very raw power. Great stuff. These two are on fire when they play together. Added to this chemistry is the vibrant crowd communication skills that Jeff has picked up from touring his arse around Australia, the most upfront audience in the world. Jeff handles hecklers almost as well as Tim Rogers. Lang took us on a bit of a ride that night - he went from blasting rock virtuosity ("Frightened Fool") to ho-down country picking to whispering cobwebs-in-the-breeze ballads. Probably the highlights were his cover of Tom Waits' "Goin' Out West" which is a bit of a crowd-pleaser, and rightly so. It rocks like a wounded beast. And most particularly the beautiful "London" and the even more exquisite "Throw It All" on the 6-string Beeton guitar, which had the audience breathless with wonder. How about this line - "I promise that you're still a friend - and I know it's OK to depend on your snap-chilled telephone comfort zone". Magic. I think from the look on his face Jeff has grown a little tired of this song's up-and-down moodiness, but the audience just bathed in the chiming guitar and beautiful wail of Jeff's voice. Wait. Another highlight. Jeff turns the fretboard into a sprintboard with Richard Thompson's "1952 Vincent Black Lightning", one of the best stories I've ever heard.

I could go on and on... So. Go and see Jeff Lang and buy his CD's. They're not available at record stores really, but you can pick them up at his gigs. All I can say is I think he's the most generous performer I've ever seen, and his music is so intelligent and hard to categorise that I think he's one of Australia's most valuable and unsung talents. I'm a fan. I've got the CD's if anyone wants to be convinced.

Aidan Roberts - Obzine

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Jeff Lang, John Butler Trio at Mojo's, Perth, WA
18 June 2000

Interestingly, the last time I had seen Jeff Lang was in the same venue with the same support. I was blown away that time and I hoped the same would happen tonight.

For the last four days I have not been the best, house bound with stomach pains, so venturing out meant this was a special occasion. Mojo‚s has a few tables and chairs and I wanted to get in early enough to claim a chair. Well, when we arrived the place was nearly full, but we did get a good position right behind the tables - fantastic for me who is a shortarse.

First up was local John Butler. Armed with three 12 string guitars and his small block of wood for foot stomping, he broke into song. Whenever I see him perform I have to look at his hands because the facial contortions he pulls put me off a bit. The closeness to the stage on this night meant I saw his fingernails - grown long so no pick is needed.

Anyway, coming from a strong environmental ideology his songs have social and political themes. One big middle finger is pulled at government policies but with such beautiful melodies even John Howard would be pulled along with the undertow. His set included instrumentals, with one being untitled because it is a feeling which cannot be named. His melodies take me to a romanticised medieval market place with performers and dancers.

Coming from an „angry John Butler head space‰ he told the audience how big business is taking such a strong hold that he believes one day he will open his front door into a shopping mall. I don‚t doubt that is a possibility but sometimes I wish he would just shut up and play his guitar. Not because I disagree with him, but because he does not give any answers how to make sure this does not happen. It is one thing to raise awareness but many times his audience is the same group of people so he is preaching to the converted.

My political two cents is that you cannot make change until you become active and create alternatives to viably compete with the hegemony.

Relief came after John‚s set as the people at the table in front of me got up and left so I was able to claim a seat after all. It was an intimidating spot being right in front of Jeff Lang but also an enjoyable position. I saw three guitars set up, acoustic, slide and steel, as well as a big block of wood that Jeff stands on and stomps his feet.

Coming from a more reflective mind set, Jeff broke out on his extremely shiny steel guitar to settle on a beautiful moody plain. The table next to me was unfortunate enough to get the reflection of the guitar in their eyes and so Jeff said it was okay for them to feel brutally violent towards him. I read that Jeff likes to play without a set list and lets the audience set the mood, so the songs continued nice and low.

Despite this he made a fair amount of between song banter that at one stage he was heckling himself because no one else would. The slide guitar came out and so did songs about love - which he claimed is better for you than garlic. I wonder if he would have said that if he had a head cold. After a fantastic few songs, including one that I was sure the guitar had turned into a sitar, he brought out his acoustic guitar.

Jeff Lang can take you right into his reflective space where you comfortably sit for a while, and then in one foul sweep a hoe-down is happening around you. Just as you‚re getting into the foot stomping the pace drops again and you are right where you were before. This is an amazing talent and other performers may try to do this but do not have the tenderness of Jeff. It seems as though he is holding your head, heart and hand all the way, while exposing his vulnerability to you. He always fulfils my needs but leaves me wanting more.

Elisabeth, Oz Music Project

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Jeff Lang, Angus Diggs, Don Walker at Mojo's, North Fremantle WA
30 October 2001

Jeff Lang appears to be a workaholic, thankfully his work is creating fantastic music and touring the globe to share. For the third time this year, Jeff came back to Perth, bringing along some truly classic talent with him.
When Jeff first appeared on stage there were a few murmurings, as people expected Don Walker to get on first. Little did we know of the treat to come. After a couple of beautiful songs from his latest album, Everything is Still, Angus Diggs joined Jeff on percussion. These two fellas blend so easily and beautifully, enhancing each others performance.
A few songs later, Jeff called Don Walker up on stage and to the delight of the audience, that‚s how the stage remained for the rest of the evening. It was hard to believe that the man I was watching on stage was part of Australia‚s seedy pub rock era. The trio played some of Jeff‚s songs, solo Don Walker material, tunes from Tex, Don & Charlie, and classic blues songs. For a couple of hours the tone of the room was continually brought up and down with the songs, ending up in one big ballsy bluesy rock-out. A brilliant performance from a trio of great musicians.

Elisabeth, Oz Music Project

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Americana Masters - Greg Brown, Jeff Lang
Eighth Step at Cohoes Music Hall, April 27 2000

"Man, this place is cool" opener Jeff Lang exclaimed, admiring the faded old-world charm of the Cohoes Music Hall. "I love the Muppet boxes".

As it happened, the private boxes—the Muppet boxes—were unoccupied, holding not a single grumpy old soft-sculpture critic. And based on audience reaction, you couldn't have found a grouch in the house anywhere. Honestly, accustomed to rock crowds as I am, I found it almost unsettling - but that's another story.

Not to say that Lang didn't deserve the rapt attention. Wielding a blindingly shiny National steel resonator, the Australian displayed a familiarity with the guitar styles of the American delta region that was beyond enviable.

Lang picked and flailed a remarkable range of melodic lines and textural tones, singing of wanderlust and love gone wrong, coming across like a less-haunted Chris Whitley or a grittier Luka Bloom. It's no insult to either Lang's guitar playing or singing—which were formidable—to point to his abilities as
an arranger as the highlight of his set. Sure, he was up there by himself, but his intuitive use of foot stomps and the guitar as a percussive instrument filled out his sound in a subtle but dramatic way that drew cheers for individual fills as if they were jazz solos.

Lang was good enough, in fact, that I questioned the wisdom of having him as an opening act. See, I'd never seen Greg Brown live - I now know how goofy the concern was.

Brown probably could have commanded the stage out of sheer intimidation if he had wanted: Sunglassed, earringed, goateed, shaved-headed, sleeveless, deeply baritoned and well over 6 feet tall, he looked and sounded more like Sylvester Stallone's idealized version of himself than a legendary folky. But appearances can be deceiving, and Brown's performance was as warm, unassuming and inviting as a log-cabin fireside.

Supported by Lang—who proved as good a sideman as he had a soloist—Brown unfolded his set, like slowly pulling a worn and favored blanket up over the audience. His voice has all the rumbling charm of farmhouse's settling floorboards, and his easy observational humor has more of the tall tale about it than it has biting satire. More than one song, for example, had as its subject the simple pleasure of a really good cup of coffee ("It's like my mom told me, 'Don't trust them that drink only tea'" Brown quipped.) Love songs were well-represented, but those too had Brown's own stamp: "When you pull on that pitiful, raggedy-ass cotton nightgown . . ." he crooned in a hilarious but unironic and sweet hayseed version of a Barry White come-on. And even when Brown got mean, it was done with such good spirit, that the audience laughed and said their own "Hallelujah, amen" that InaBell—who killed her husband Pete, "screamed and hollered him to death with her helium woodpecker voice"—is finally, sweet Jesus, dead.

John Rodat

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Jeff Lang at The Unity Center for the Performing Arts
February 25 2003

Last Tuesday evening, with the wind chill hovering around -20 degrees, my wife and I were reconsidering our plans to venture out to Unity to catch a show by guitarist Jeff Lang. But I am here to tell you - I am so glad we did! Not only were we knocked out by Jeff's brilliance as a guitarist and songwriter, but also the venue itself, The Unity Centre for the Performing Arts left us shaking our heads in awe. From the extremely comfortable, antique P.T. Barnum Hippodrome seating to the massive wooden post and beam trusses, the room itself is testament to what can be done to an old building to transform it into a state-of-the-art concert hall. Jeff, himself, commented on the wonderful acoustics in the old barn and how glad he was to be back in Unity.

We arrived shortly before show time, but first had the pleasure of checking out the new Playhouse Bar & Grill downstairs. After our nearly two hour ride this was a great way to start our evening! We had just enough time for a quick bite and a pint.

Lang is from Australia and why he wound up in Maine is a bit of a mystery (save this leg of the tour for summer, I would have thought) but here he was and the small audience in attendance could not have been more appreciative. We were here because of having heard and been blown away by Lang's appearance on NPR's Prairie Home Companion. It's hard to really define his style but if it tells you anything, Lang plays almost exclusively slide guitar. He had three with him that evening: a regular acoustic, a National-type metal dobro that he acknowledged always blinds the front row, and a very unique animal from Hawaii with a hollow neck that Lang played on his lap. His songs are a combination of many genres - a little blues, a little folk, some rock, some ballads - his voice is strong, his lyrics interesting, his between song banter funny (plenty of jabs at Bush and Blair) overall a great showman.

Brian Stigler, Face Magazine

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