Josh Pyke is further confirmation that the current crop of musicians coming out of Australia is capable of rivaling any international acts. His breakout 2005 mini-album "Feeding the Wolves," (which included the frequently-rotated single, "Middle of the Hill,") marked the arrival of something new and exciting on the Australian music scene, with its whimsical tone and lyrical density.
Since that first offering - (which ended up being nominated for 'Best Pop Release' at the 2006 ARIAs) there have been three more albums, the latest of which is 2011's "Only Sparrows," which reveals an even greater range of diversity than evidenced on previous albums.
Despite owning all but one of his albums, I'd never seen Pyke perform before, but I went with high expectations. Unlike other acts, there is a kind of spoken quality about Pyke's music, (further reinforced by the fact that his songs are often underpinned by a strong narrative core,) which I was hoping would only be enhanced by the intimacy of a live performance.
I wasn't disappointed. Pyke is vocally strong and his singing/storytelling is evidently at home within the gig environment. So is he, revealing an easy familiarity with the crowd, providing humorous anecdotes and politely declining a marriage proposal from an overenthusiastic fan.
Pyke performed several of the songs featured on his latest album while moving back and forth between previous favourites. The only downside was that his (arguably) best-known song "Middle of the Hill" felt as though it were being played - at least in part - on autopilot. (A small offence I was willing to overlook considering he is on the last leg of an extensive tour.)
The last performance I saw at Art Gallery of WA's "ARTBAR" was fellow Aussie act, "Owl Eyes," and once again, it proves itself a fantastic venue for smaller acts. Given the fact that ticket cost included entry to current exhibition "Picasso to Warhol: Fourteen Modern Masters" it ends up being a fairly economical night out, (especially if you were planning on forking out to see the exhibit on its own.) Warhol's Campbell's cans, a glass of red and a great Aussie act - not a bad way to spend a Thursday night in Perth.
Venue: ARTBAR (Art Gallery of Western Australia)
Date: 8 November, 2012
Tickets: $49.50 + booking fee