There couldn’t have been a more fitting venue than the back lawn at the Fremantle Arts Centre for the two bare-footed boys from Byron, Ziggy Alberts and Kim Churchill. It’s a venue that Alberts had always had on his bucket list to play, and he finally did it – to a capacity crowd – on his second tour of Laps Around the Sun.
As the sunset cast its golden glow, punters sought their patches of grass with picnic blankets in hand, patiently waiting for Kim Churchill to take to the stage. He’s one of Ziggy Alberts’ best mates, and Churchill’s laid-back coastal sound proved to be the perfect opener for the evening.
The guitar-playing, drum-kicking, harmonica-blowing ex-busker, charmed the crowd from the moment he walked on stage, opening with a story about his high school careers advisor poo-pooing his dreams of buying a camper van, driving around Australia, and making a career out of busking.
“The careers advisor said no. He told me it was a shit idea”, said Churchill. He got the crowd behind him when he followed up by saying “I thought I should go back and tell him what was really a shit job – a f***ing careers advisor”. With that, he launched into ‘Truest Intentions’ from his 2009 album With Sword and Shield, followed by this year’s ‘When Everything Comes Undone’.
Churchill’s infectious smile and detailed story telling kept the audience captive. He spared no detail in telling the crowd the meaning behind each song, getting brutally honest at times. “I had a bunch of things go wrong in my life, all at once,” recounted Churchill. “I felt very sad. I had grief. I started to take them on as a part of my identity, and I realised that had started turning me into a bit of a sad, mopey shit,” he told the audience before getting into another new release, ‘Caught Up in the Landslide’. This rendition lacked the extra layers on the single, but Churchill’s energy, and the addition of an effect pedal, produced a huge sound.
Churchill’s set continued with ‘Second Hand Car’, a heartfelt song about his grandma and George called ‘Rosemary’, and ‘Don’t Leave Your Life Too Long’. He rounded it out with an absolutely thumping cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Lemon’, and his smash hit, ‘Window to the Sky’.
Following Kim Churchill and matching his charisma is no easy feat. But if anyone was going to rise to the challenge, it was Alberts. The headline act opened his set a little differently, opting for a documentary style video introduction in which he spoke about Laps Around the Sun, and detailed his love for the ocean and WA.
Though somewhat impersonal in format, you couldn’t help but be drawn to how genuine Alberts came across on the screen. All props to him though, as he hadn’t even made it out on stage, and he already had the crowd around his little finger.
The video was the audience’s cue to pick up their picnic blankets and pack in closer to the stage, ready for Alberts’ opener, ‘Bright Lights’. With ridiculous accuracy, he effortlessly glided his way through the song. A punter nearby even remarked that “he sounds exactly like he does on the radio”; that was until he took creative liberty and switched out a few lyrics in his second song of the night, ‘Days in The Sun’, to shout out to Churchill. A very personal, and well received, touch.
Admittedly, it was questionable as to whether Alberts would be able to hold the attention of a larger audience with his cruisy acoustic sounds. After his very raw performance of ‘Best Friend’ from behind the keyboard (acapella and all), all doubt was allayed.
Every single eye was on Alberts, and that’s where they stayed for the rest of the evening. With the crowd now hanging on every note, it was the perfect time for Alberts to delve into deeper issues, requesting that we all make pacts to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to check in each other regularly, and to look after our environment.
The show continued with crowd favourites ‘Heaven’ and ‘Captain Planet Song’, and a new release, ‘Intentions’; after which, Alberts decided to experiment with something new. From the main stage, Alberts was escorted through the crowd to the sound desk, where he stood atop an amp tower, and performed ‘Yu’ to the fans at the top of the hill.
It was assumed there would be a point in the night where everyone’s phones came out, and this was it. The whole hill lit up, swaying in unison with the gentle acoustic strums and clever picking. Before finishing up the set, Alberts busted out the well-known hits ‘Runaway’, ‘Hands I can Hold’, ‘Love Me Now’, and ‘Laps Around the Sun’. As the bass drum and pace picked up, so too did the previously simple lighting behind Alberts. The mood changed, and the stage was awash with colour.
The crowd was relentless in their requests for an encore, prompting Alberts to return to the stage to perform a song he wrote about a girl he met at the markets, ‘Warm Coffee’. It seemed an odd and unexpected note to end the night on, given there were still more gems he hadn’t yet played. But, no sooner had the last chord of the mellow ballad been struck, the first, unmistakable picked notes of ‘Gone (The Pocahontas Song)’ had begun. Applause brought Alberts to his knees at the end of his 2-song encore. It wasn’t until the lights had dimmed for the second time, that the crowd eased up on the cheering, and the curtain was closed on a truly spectacular evening.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Ziggy Alberts continues his Laps Around the Sun tour with ticket information here.
Friday Dec 13th | Brisbane
January 2nd | Wanaka, NZ
January 3rd | Tauranaga, NZ