With Esther Holt

If you didn’t know he began his music career fronting hardcore bands, I sincerely doubt you would have guessed it, based on the performance Lawrence Greenwood - under the moniker of Whitley - gave to a lucky crowd at the Hi-Fi Bar in Melbourne. Unofficially dubbed the ’91 Corolla Tour - after confiding his plans to get his Dad’s old car on the road - Whitley afforded the crowd a mix of old and new tracks for an intimate evening of beautiful sounds and stories.

Whitley collaborator, friend and support artist, Esther Holt graced the stage with her band to perform some beautiful tracks, including her new single ‘Rock Me Through The Night’. Their catchy set concluding with an unexpected and captivating performance of The Presets’ ‘This Boy’s in Love’ which did the original great justice while sounding so natural, you could believe it was one of Holt's own songs. The upbeat folk-rock act brought to mind artists such as Feist and Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit, while Esther’s voice and stage presence found her with a very attentive audience and provided a fitting introduction to the man we had all been waiting for.

Sitting behind his organ under a spotlight, the self-described ‘weird, gloomy, indie-folk version of Rocky’ had just his instruments and mystery backing vocals coming from the darkness of the stage for his performance of ‘The Ballad of Terence McKenna’ - the opening track from his new album Even The Stars Are A Mess. As the lights were lifted to show the stage, Esther Holt was revealed as the source of the backing vocals, accompanied by the rest of the band – Chris Bolton, Colin Leadbetter and Tom Milek. Following two more tracks from the new album, a performance of ‘Bright White Lights’ was a beautiful look back at Whitley’s second album Go Forth, Find Mammoth.

Other stand-out tracks included ‘More Than Life’ and new single ‘My Heart is not a Machine’ - showcasing Whitley’s beautiful voice and lyrics, with a delicate beat from Colin on drums - not unlike that of a heartbeat.

All too quickly Whitley and his band left the stage after performing ‘All Is Whole’ from his debut album The Submarine, returning to perform one encore track. Described by Whitley as “so cheesy, but feels so good to sing” and joined by Chris on guitar, the final track of the evening was a stripped-back cover of ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’. A fun and fitting end to the evening.

Whitley is getting ready to bring his show to the Splendour in the Grass crowd and I encourage anyone lucky enough to have a ticket, to check out his set.

Pick yourself up a copy of his latest record Even The Stars Are A Mess (out now through Dew Process) and help Whitley get the ’91 Corolla back on the road.
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