Grant-Lee Phillips – Live Review

Read our review of Grant-Lee Phillips live at The Thornbury Theatre


Grant-Lee Phillips

Live At The Thornbury Theatre

13 May 2018

By Jim Jacob




and Rob Dickens





Grant-Lee Phillips was raised in Stockton California before trying out film study in Los Angeles.  After two critically-acclaimed releases in a band called Shiva Burlesque, he took a more prominent role in the next collegiate incantation Grant Lee Buffalo (with the same members Paul Kimble, bass and Joey Peters, drums) which spawned four well-received (but not financially successful) albums, good responses on the road and being voted Best Male Vocalist by Rolling Stone magazine.

By 1999 Phillips determined that his star should be a solo one and in 2000 released the first lone recording Ladies’ Love Oracle.  Seven more albums followed before 2016’s The Narrows and this year’s Widdershins.  He moved to Nashville in 2013 and his output nor craft has not missed a beat for a considerable period.

This was his first tour to Australia since 2014.

This night he was at The Thornbury Theatre in Melbourne’s inner north, the fourth of a nine-venue run around the country and the third in Melbourne.  It was Mother’s Day and Phillips bounded on to stage with best maternal wishes and, after finding that a handful of the audience had seen another of his shows in the city, made a determination to play a different set to his previous two Melbourne gigs.  What a mixed set it was, with him covering a wide range of his considerable archive of material.  He was largely solo with just a jumbo acoustic Gibson that had the fullest and most pleasing sound.  His honeyed vocals were on display as he effortlessly moved through his various songs, only occasionally letting go and showing what a big and accomplished voice he has.

The pace was a cracker.  I counted twenty one songs in all for what seemed not a long set.  There was certainly not much storytelling between tunes.  But the songs carried the night with aplomb – some favorites were “Walk In Circles”, the ominous “San Andreas”, the insistent “The Wilderness”, the stellar “Jupiter Tear Drops”, the powerful and tragic “Mighty Joe Moon” and a song he has recently re-discovered “Black Horses In The Yellow Sky” (from his 2012 collection Walking In The Green Corn).  The lively support Matt Joe Gow joined him for “Come To Mama, She Say” and “Calamity Jane” before he finished off with a rousing “Another Then Boom”.

Plenty to enjoy on this night with Grant-Lee Phillips not going out of his way to let the newest batch of songs dominate the set, as can be the temptation for most performers.  All the more reason for us to see him again, sometime soon.




Read our review of Grant-Lee Phillips live at The Thornbury Theatre 

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Author: Rob Dickens

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