Kicking off a phenomenal rock n’roll triple bill at the Annandale Hotel (where else?) were Sydney’s own Doc Holliday Takes The Shotgun. The band may as well be a love affair with artists like Nick Cave, Iggy Pop and Jon Spencer, featuring a similarly enigmatic frontman (Jack Booker) with plenty of talent, swagger to boot and a backing band whose skills continue to grow with every live show. Singing about sex, money, paddle pops and cash registers, this is a band who don’t take themselves too seriously, but definitely hope you don’t ignore them in the process.
With the bassist literally slicing through the crowd, Jack bouncing around and the rest of the band looking on as they nail their parts, this is a band whose live energy have already made them something of a legend within the local live community. At every show they remind their crowd why. "Shipwrecked" was my personal favourite of the set.
Next up were Mildura duo Jackson Firebird, whose raw Aussie rock and roll - inspired from bands like Spiderbait - was so well received that they received an impressively loud encore call at the end of the set. This may have also been due to the fact that their set came to an end well before it was supposed to. They say short can be sweet, but maybe this was a little too on the former end... still, to leave the crowd wanting more, there's never anything wrong with that, and as they so often do, Jackson Firebird proved why they have gotten the amount of attention they have over the last six months.
After a long wait, thanks no less to Jackson Firebird finishing up well before their set was due to finish, it was time for Texan Gary Clark Jr to make his Sydney debut. Called by many as the "Saviour of Blues" - what, being under 30 and all - it was tonight that it became clear what all the fuss was about.
Opening with an impressive instrumental jam, Gary and his backing band set the tone for an hour and a half of some great blues rock. Gary stands comfortably on the stage as he heralds back to all the great guitarists - your Buddy Guys, Jimi Hendrixes, BB Kings, Claptons and Becks - while making it completely his own. Like the aforementioned, he's the sort of guitarist whose skills are unfakeable. Sure, there's practice and dedication - he's been doing this since he was a kid - but there comes a point where you just have to have this shit flowing through your veins. There is no question that Gary Clark Jr was born to play the guitar, and he makes it look so damn easy that if there were any guitarists in the room that night, they very well may have packed up their careers in humiliation. "Well now how can I compete with THAT!?"
Returning in the new year to play Big Day Out and a couple of sideshows, this sold out Annandale crowd got a taste of what to expect from the larger shows in the New Year. You can't help but feel that it's an odd pick for the festival, but after spellbinding sets earlier this year at festivals like Lollapalooza, there's little question that he's going to blow a few minds at the festival in January. He certainly blew mine tonight.
Between his incredible guitar playing, his impressive singing - occasionally falsetto - and his overall songwriting which took us from rock to ballad and back again - it would be fair to say that Gary Clark Jr is one of the greatest emerging talents in the music world to day. Don't be the guy that says "I missed Gary!" when he comes down to BDO. His live shows are certainly something you'll never forget. I won't be doing so anytime soon.