Live Review: Shane Nicholson impresses at the beloved Caravan Music Club alongside Imogen Clark

It was a bittersweet night for Shane Nicholson at the Caravan Music Club last Friday night, with the venue announcing its closure after a decade of providing an iconic venue for bands and artists to play. Always a highlight venue on the Victorian leg of his tour; singing songs from his twenty-year career repertoire and leaving the audiences wanting more, more, more!

Opening the show was CMC New Oz Artist of the Year nominee, Imogen Clark. Obviously a very talented and experienced singer – she’s been performing for over ten years – she treated us to songs from her debut album, Love & Lovely Lies and previews off her upcoming release, made with Diesel’s Mark Lizotte.

She later joined Shane on stage for a number of two – including the single “Rattlin’ Bones”, which he originally sang with ex-wife, Kasey Chambers. Describing Shane as her “song writing idol”, the two share a record label and have toured together before, so the comfort level of performing together was evident and their voices blended perfectly in the dark lit room. Wearing a knee length nude-and-black lace dress, red lips and black boots, the small-town beauty entertained the crowd with her powerful voice and informative stories – including one of filming her music video for  “You’ll Only Break My Heart” with her now-boyfriend Shaun Ryan, bass player for Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes.

After a short break, Shane came to the stage followed by affectionate cheers from the crowd. Currently on tour with his tenth studio album, Love and Blood; the album was written in complete isolation in a house by the Hawksebury River and was released late last month. Off the new Americana-influenced, Country release, the triple ARIA-award winner played “God’s Own Army” and the first single, Safe (which he wrote for his girlfriend, Emma) amongst others. He sang the classics: “Monkey on a Wire”, “Summer Dress”, “Jimmy Rodgers Was A Vampire”, “Weight of the World”, “Secondhand Man”, “The Quiet Life” and “Whistling Cannonballs”.

The highlights for me were the heartbreaking ballad, “The Broken Things” and when he joined the centre of the room to sing an acoustic set amongst the crowd. It felt all-inclusive, personal and got the room pumped in a unified roar of foot tapping and clapping.

Sharing tales, like his man-crush on television’s Larry Emdur – “I’m met so many of my idols; but for some reason, Larry Emdur is the one who leaves me tongue tied” – his children, his travels, his recordings, why he won’t dance and an amusing story about his friend, barbeque Pete – a nickname Shane’s children gave him when his barbeque accident burnt half his face. Throughout his set he played his guitar Grooch, named after its creator – the late “cranky old bastard (but I loved him),” Shane described, before then dedicating a song in his memory.

He later performed two songs on the piano – “Whenever there’s a piano at a venue, I can’t help but play it … not that I really know how to,” Shane said modestly, before exceeding expectations at how well he could play. “Music becomes the constant thing as you travel around the world. Music is the one thing I carry with me wherever I go,” he said of the song “Irons And Chains,” he wrote about his terrifying experience in the Detroit, Michigan. “You can take a lot from the places and the songs you write. When I look back over ten records, it’s become like a travel log. You see the places through your eyes, how you were at that age when you were there.”

He was joined on stage by John Bedggood who provided backing vocals and played an array of various stringed instruments. Shane also welcomed Melbourne-based singer/songwriter, Andrew Swift on stage, joining John, Imogen and himself on stage for the final song, “The House That Never Was.”

I’ve seen Shane many times and never has he disappoint.

Love and Blood is out now.

SHANE NICHOLSON TOUR DATES

August 11th | Anita’s Theatre, Thirroul
August 12th | Harmonie German Club, Canberra
August 18th | Music Lounge, Brookvale
August 19th | Lizotte’s, Newcastle
August 20th | Hardys Bay Club, Central Coast
August 25th | Dalrymple Hotel, Townsville
August 26th | Edge Hill Tavern, Cairns
September 1st | Rooty Hill RSL, Rooty Hill
September 8th | Flow Bar @ Old Bar, NSW
October 13th | Trinity Sessions, Adelaide
October 14th | Song Room @ Barossa Regional Gallery, Adelaide
October 16th – 23rd | Rock the Boat Pacific Cruise
October 28th | Welcome to Morrisonville, Brisbane

The reviewer attended this show on August 4th.