Gig Reviews

Robert Forster – Whelans – 28-05-16 – Live Review


Robert Forster – Whelans – 28-05-16 – Live Review by Killian Laher

Barely room to breathe in Whelans for the first visit to Dublin of the impeccably dressed Robert Forster in 8 years. Joined by guitarist, bass player, drummer and violin player, Forster and co powered through selections from last year’s Songs to Play album plus older selections from his solo albums and the Go-Betweens. Concentrating mostly on uptempo material, the charismatic frontman had the audience, mainly rabid fans, mesmerised with dramatic gestures accentuating every wry line on Let Me Imagine You, Born To A Family and I Love Myself (“a song about self-esteem” according to Forster).

Musically, the band proved themselves to be a fine accompaniment to Forster’s songs, particularly guitarist Luke McDonald. Heart Out To Tender was drawn out and sort of… exaggerated, but in a good way, taking what wouldn’t necessarily be one of Forster’s stronger songs and bringing out the best in it. Older material such as Draining the Pool for You and Clouds got a great reception while a fine version of Finding You and an acoustic Darlinghurst Nights induced the odd moist eye or two.

Finishing with a rousing Here Comes A City, they encored with a jazzy-blues version of Danger In The Past, Forster turning up the dramatic posturing and singing to maximum effect. A complete change of tack followed, Forster played a sensitive, acoustic version of classic Go-Betweens track Cattle and Cane, a “song I wished I’d wrote” as a tribute to the deceased Grant McLennan, pointing upwards afterwards as if to underline the point. A fine guitar and violin version of The House Jack Kerouac Built proved a highlight before rounding off with a full band version of Spring Rain.

It would be easy for Robert Forster, now in his 60s, to settle into ‘wise old sage’ mode. But, helped by a lively band, he’s keeping all that at bay.

Set List:

1. Learn To Burn
2. I’m So Happy For You
3. Let Me Imagine You
4. Surfing Magazines
5. Head Full of Steam
6. Born to a Family
7. Draining The Pool For You
8. Darlinghurst Nights
9. Clouds
10. Heart Out to Tender
11. Finding You
12. I Can Do
13. I Love Myself (And I Always Have)
14. A Poet Walks
15. Here Comes A City


16. Danger In The Past
17. Cattle And Cane
18. The House Jack Kerouac Built
19. Spring Rain



Categories: Gig Reviews, Gigs, Header, Music

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