Holly Throsby and Dan Kelly

The new Factory Theatre in Marrickville, Sydney has such potential; a well organised and positioned entrance, friendly staff, bright and creative furnishings and a lovely spacious stage.


But, on Saturday the 10th of February, this purpose-built venue had a lot to answer for.


On entry, the main room's empty and vacant vibe threatened to swallow us punters whole. Audiences were seated cross-legged on the hard, factory floors like children in a school hall. Planes flew directly overhead and the teetering of alcoholic beverages in plastic cups disrupted the peace that should have transcended this venue.


Luckily, or so we thought, we had two amazing artists to elevate the room and mentally, take us away from the surroundings of The Factory and into a magical, acoustic space.


With his Elvis-like stagger (and let's face it, hair), the gorgeous Dan Kelly from Melbourne came onto stage around 9pm, to perform a brief solo set to support Holly Throsby for the evening.


Shy, with a bit knee knocking as he bumbled the way through his set, Dan went through songs new, and old, often improvising what would have normally been a solo by his supporting band, The Alpha Males. He was overly charming, but erratic at times, his stories overtaking his playing in most songs and resulting in quite a static set.


Aside from being maybe too laid back and lounge room-esque in his approach to the performance, there were quite a few highlights which had the audience singing and swaying along: a sweet little song from his first album titled "Checkout Cutie"(2004), and obviously newer, sharper singles "Drunk On Election Night"(2005) and "Babysitters Of The World Unite"(2006).


Overall though, he was quite quirky and proved to be a fun, entertaining act to open the night with. I could only imagine that with his band in support, Dan Kelly would really put on an outstanding headline show.


Having high hopes for Ms Holly Throsby that night, the audience was getting pretty restless by the time her and her support band (Jens Birchall and Bree van Reyk) ambled their way onto stage. After hearing that earlier in the year at their Australia Day gig, Jens' double bass blew over and broke, we were all intrigued to see the band sans double and with electric bass on hand.


So the show begins, after Holly had to re-tune her guitar (Dan Kelly being the guest "guitar tech" for the night and promptly being fired on the spot). As soon as she opened her mouth the mood seemed to shift – into that enchanting dream-like state, that if you've ever listened to Holly's albums, you'd understand and appreciate.


The first part of the set was mainly songs from the On Night (2004) album, which seem to be much more simplistic than her recent release, not in a negative way, just quieter, more relaxed tunes. With Jens tolling away on the electric and cello and Bree playing drums with brushes and gentle glockenspiel, we settled in for a what could have been an amazing night.


Then things could be said to have gone a little "pear shaped". Holly delved into her new single "Shoulders And Bends", which is very reminiscent of Inge Lindstrom's style of music, then headed over for a tinker on her old Casio keyboard which was set up to the right of the stage. Apparently, she did have a keyboard player that has now left and has thus taken on this new role. To be honest, it really didn't turn out to be a smart idea. She bumbled through a new song "One Of You For Me", with a horrible blaring note sound on the keys. Holly continued to battle the Casio through a few new songs, which would potentially be for the next album and played the first song she wrote on a keyboard "Sorry Love".


With the un-professionalism of these tunes' delivery, the audience became unsettled, and Holly began to make mistakes with the band also missing their cues. Especially when they struck an old favourite "Up With The Birds".


For an up-coming and seemingly well-known Australian outfit, it struck as odd that being on tour for so long, why Holly and co were not tighter and more rehearsed.


As soon as she finished a poorly timed version of "Making A Fire" from her most recent Under The Town(2006) release, many of the audience departed, not looking back on the 2-song encore she pushed through.


All of the elements were there for Holly Throsby to shine: her unique voice, laid back approach to music, her talented band members' multi-instrument playing and her songwriting niche. It was such a shame on this night that these elements did not come through, especially since the gig was in her home town, leaving this particular member of the crowd, pretty damn disappointed.

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