The Spiegeltent sits in the middle of King George Square as though it’s been a fixture for years. It is a fantastic venue and one of the most atmospheric performance spaces included in the Brisbane Festival. Lior looks completely comfortable and at home perched on a stool in front of his string quartet, beaded curtain glinting by the stage lights, the wooden floor boards shifting as someone walks from their seat to the bar; a fantastic intimate setting for the audience to be enveloped by Lior’s gorgeous music and entertaining stories.
As part of Lior’s By Request tour, the audience gets the chance to request songs from any of his three studio albums or a cover of, well, just about anything. The result of these requests is a one off unique live performance as Lior interacts with his fans in a way that audiences would rarely get to experience. He talks about the messages and Facebook posts of the requests made, he asks for the fans who requested the songs by name. Some of the fans are happy to identify themselves, others are more reluctant, either way, Lior is genuinely engaging with his audience, making their stories a part of his.
A few of the songs from his most recent album were played but the most requested songs from the Brisbane audience were from his debut album Autumn Flow and included Building Ships and This Old Love. Not only were songs requested but the stories he tells with them. Lior happily obliged and tales from his performances overseas and in Australia were related. While in France performing This Old Love, with a local’s help he attempted to translate the English lyric into French. Apparently there is no French equivalent for the word ‘frown’. Years later in Australia after sharing this story with the audience one lady left notes for him to aid his translation, the outcome was that ‘frown’ would mean ‘suspension of the eyebrows’ in French.
At least half a dozen covers were included, the most memorable of the evening being, Up on the Roof by Carole King, the jazz standard Nature Boy, Don McLean’s Vincent and believe it or not, Bon Jovi’s Living On a Prayer. For Vincent, Lior shared how as a songwriter this is a song he ‘wished he had written’. His interpretation was beautiful and reminiscent of Don McLean’s original and the audience in the rear booths who had been quite noisy for parts of the show were silent for this song; it was an awe inspiring moment. Lior’s interpretation of Nature Boy was equally as stunning. If it was the first time you had heard this song you would never have known it was a jazz standard. The eastern sounds that blend through Lior’s music and singing took Nature Boy to a beautiful and exotic place that left the audience spellbound.
A less serious but also memorable cover was Bon Jovi’s Living On a Prayer. Lior spoke about some of the more unusual requests he received and how in particular this request had a message attached to it that dared him to take the song on. The starting place in Lior’s process when interpreting a song is imitating the original and the crowd cheered and laughed as Lior gave his best Bon Jovi imitation. Then he shared his analysis of the lyric, he saw softness, love and a more innocent time. His next mental leap when rehearsing the song was the Sesame Street tune. What brilliantly and hilariously followed was Lior singing Living On a Prayer to the Sesame Street theme.
Lior’s anecdotes make for very entertaining storytelling and his open and honest banter with his fans endear them to him even more. While his musical sensibilities are refined, his down to earth nature and sense of humour make for a very relaxed atmosphere. His music reflects his gift for storytelling, his lyrics full of rich and beautiful imagery. His songs are warm and inviting and his guitar skills superb. Lior is a sheer pleasure to watch in live performance.
2011 Brisbane Festival
Venue: The Famous Spiegeltent, King George Square, Brisbane 4000
Dates: 16 – 17 Sep, 2011
Tickets: $35 – $45