Review: M. Ward @ The Gov (Adelaide)

M. Ward played The Gov (Adelaide) on 5 December, 2023.
Senior Writer
James is trained in classical/operatic voice and cabaret, but enjoys and writes about everything, from pro-wrestling to modern dance.

Portland, Oregon's Monster of Folk, sometimes Zooey Deschanel collaborator and Americana troubadour, M. Ward united with Melbourne's Folk Bitch Trio in his first visit to Adelaide to celebrate 20 years since the release of breakthrough album 'Transfiguration Of Vincent'.

When M. Ward entered the stage at The Gov (5 December) for the first time after a career that has spanned two-plus decades, there was a lot of catching up to do.

With his Buddy Holly glasses and a tight backing band, mostly comprised of Melbourne musicians, M rollicked through his back catalogue for six or seven tracks which included classics like 'Never Had Nobody Like You' and newer cuts like 'Supernatural Thing'.

Since his 1999 debut 'Debut For Guitars #2', M. Ward has released thoughtful folk tunes delivered with a laidback baritone.

Ward has partnered with Zooey Deschanel in their side project She & Him, with members of Bright Eyes and My Morning Jacket in Monsters of Folk, and on albums with legends like Brian Wilson, Cat Power and Beth Orton. With a career like that, the early set flurry was an intoxicating experience.

There was finally a chance to catch breath and luxuriate when the band departed, leaving M alone for a solo acoustic version of David Bowie's 'Let's Dance' from 'Transfiguration'; a cover that is unrecognisable from the original in the best possible way.

Ward's showmanship and humility was on full display for the remainder of the set. He welcomed a young woman who was frolicking near the front onto the stage to add rhythm with an egg shaker on the appropriately titled 'For Beginners'.

He dedicated an instrumental guitar duel to AC/DC, and invited support act Folk Bitch Trio onstage to deliver sublime backing vocals on 2006 album 'Post-War' cut 'Chinese Translation' and one of the standout's from new release 'Supernatural Thing' – 'Too Young To Die'.

The young trio from Melbourne, Folk Bitch Trio, that have joined Ward on his national tour were a surprising highlight, with their vocal harmonisation, self-deprecating wit when talking about solo date nights at Northcote pizza bars, and their incorrect usage of the word analogue.

The band began their set with an a cappella track that was so exquisite in its beauty the front-bar chatter became pin-drop silent, while every rustle or bar fridge closing sounded like blasphemy. They finished with an enchanting cover of Roland S Howard's 'Shivers' from The Boys Next Door era (pre-The Birthday Party).

Following a rousing Tuesday night set, M. Ward's backing band were in a party mood, with one of the FBT celebrating a birthday; a three-track encore ensured, which featured 'Rollercoaster' – a song about that friend you have who is crazy in an inspirational way – sent the appreciative crowd home hoping that it doesn't take another 25 years for Ward to return to Adelaide.

Let's Socialise

Facebook pink circle    Instagram pink circle    YouTube pink circle    YouTube pink circle

 OG    NAT

Twitter pink circle    Twitter pink circle