'Dope Lemon' was written in yellow lights, like little illuminated lemons. They bathed the band in a balmy glow, stretched across The Tivoli Theatre stage (8 August).
All members as a collective rivalled a classic Western blockbuster. Think neutral tones, jackets, and full-brimmed hats – they even walked with a cowboy swagger.
They began with ‘Honey Bones’ song, ‘Stonecutters’, the sentiment smooth and mellow. You could sense the Angus Stone influence – the musician who composes with his sister.
Same album, but different territories ventured, ‘How Many Times’ was distinctly dope. Darker, more psychedelic – eerie verses balanced with a beautiful soprano chorus.
The band paused, lingered, Angus uttered “Okay”, leading into ‘Marinade’. The discography heavyweight sparked genuine joy, many chiming along to the spoken lyrics.
“How you guys doing, you good?” he asked – cue hundreds of positive answers. He smiled into the mic at the response, finally concurring to the crowd: “Well – that’s good.”
The iconic Dope Lemon bobbleheads entered, faces masked by oversized animal heads. A twanging bass and sultry tones of newbie ‘Hey You’ asserted the track as a deserving ‘Smooth Big Cat’ favourite.
The band bounced back to their debut album, embellishing ‘Coyote’ with a brilliant harmonica solo. I felt the wind in my hair through an open car window during the winding ‘Lonely Boys Paradise’.
Angus rarely addressed the crowd though here he stopped to speak to his adoring onlookers. “This song’s called ‘F*** Things Up’,” he introduced, folky origins shining through.
The song title ‘Honey Bones’ is gloriously poetic – its accompanying sound just as gooey. Pair a whisky-soaked evening in a Texan bar, with a wander through an Arabian village.
New single ‘Salt & Pepper’ brimmed with similar rhetorics, hazy melody similarly dreamy to its words (“Shake your little salt and pepper, we’ll float back to yours”). The oozy tune rounded off with an impressive guitar solo, bringing spaced-out listeners back to reality.
“Thank you so much for having us tonight, ladies and gentlemen,” the Smooth Big Cat purred to the crowd. He introduced his accompanying band – featuring musicians from all over the world.
My long-term favourite Dope Lemon release, the underrated ‘Home Soon’, proved momentous. Melody dictated by a twanging guitar riff and fluttering flute – stage alive with twirling dancers.
The band briefly exited though returned shortly after the crowd began their obliging, encore-begging cheers. Ironically, the song that started their career (‘Uptown Folks’) was the one that concluded the set.
I’ve been an Angus Stone fan from the age of 14, whether performing with his sister or during his brief solo ventures. What never ceases to amaze me is his uncanny ability to identify what’s ‘cool’, before it happens. And never ‘cool’ in a pretentious or even remotely forced way – quite the opposite, it feels effortless and blasé.
More importantly, he doesn’t single out a market, trend, or clique – his music has a consistently broad appeal.
We all know the Stone’s have ‘coastal rock’ in the bag, but with Dope Lemon, Angus proves he’s genre-fluid. While some songs are still laced with his guitar-plucking magic, most are a psychedelic/ blues home run.
Big call, but it’s an opinion formed solely based on the facts, with perhaps a hint of personal bias. Dope Lemon asserts Angus Stone as one of the most talented (and consistently relevant) musicians of the last 15 years.