Live Review: Ed Kuepper + Jim White @ The Triffid
Scott Russell | On 20, Jun 2021
Former The Saints guitarist Ed Kuepper and Dirty Three drummer Jim White re-interpret songs from Kuepper’s extensive back catalogue in hypnotic fashion.
The partnership between Kuepper (The Saints, the Aints!, Laughing Clowns) and White (Dirty Three, Xylouris White)—forged during lockdown before they’d played a note together—brings together two of Australia’s most accomplished musicians.
Currently crisscrossing the country on a 30-date tour, support tonight comes from Greg Charles. Backed by violinist, drummer and bassist, he plays a set of finely wordsmithed tunes with a Neil Young / Lou Reed flavour.
The Triffid (a fitting venue given that the words “The Saints – (I’m) Stranded” are emblazoned over the beer garden walls) is sold out as Kuepper and White make their inauspicious entrance to the stage: Kuepper sits down and tunes his guitar; White riffles through a Coles bag and empties his pockets.
And then… magic happens. Kuepper and White start to play ‘The Ruins’, from Kuepper’s 2015 Lost Cities. It’s haunting and atmospheric, White’s ever-so-gentle beats giving Kuepper the air to breathe and bring his unique way of playing to the fore.
The set takes in songs from Kuepper’s 50 (!!!) album career. The Saints are represented via the likes of ‘Messin’ with the Kid’ and ‘Brisbane (Security City)’, while other highpoints include ‘Everything I’ve Got Belongs To You’, ‘Church of Simultaneous Existence’, and a stunning version of the rarely played ‘The Year of the Bloated Goat’.
There’s a slight drop in energy as the set meanders ever-so-slightly in the back half, but by the time they play the Laughing Clowns’ ‘Eternally Yours’ to close the set proper they’re back on track.
Kuepper is not the most technical guitarist (nor is he flashy, although he does show off some of his trademark dry wit: “this is a new song which sounds like an old song… we didn’t want you to miss out on that remarkable bit of banter”), however in his own inventive way he is a master: not a note he plays is wasted, each one adding colour to the story.
White for his part, doesn’t say a word all night. He doesn’t need to. Watching him play is mesmerising as he hits the skins with the elegance of an artist’s brush strokes across a canvas, the perfect foil to Kuepper’s guitar-playing.
Walking out of the Triffid into a balmy Brisbane winter evening, there’s only one thing on my mind: Ed Kuepper’s career and talents should be far more acknowledged and recognised than they are.
Image: Scott Russell