The Dirty Three – The Powerstation March 14, 2012

Anyone who has witnessed The Dirty Three playing live over the past 20 years knows that they are in for something special, and that was certainly true on this Wednesday night in Auckland.

After a brief set by New York quartet Endless Boogie, who sounded pretty much as advertised, Warren Ellis (violin, keyboard), Jim White (drums) and Mick Turner (guitar) took to the stage.

Warren immediately established himself as the evening’s MC, storyteller, jokester and lead magician…because what these three musicians make on stage can only be described as magic.

Ellis’ between-song ramblings can be as entertaining as the music itself. Long stream-of consciousness rants that touch on politics, drug use and just about anything else that pops into his head.

Music-wise, the band spent the first half of the concert showcasing songs from their new album Toward The Low Sun, beginning with Rain Song and then on to Sometimes I Forget You’ve Gone, The Pier, Rising Below and Moon On The Land.

Again, Ellis was mesmerizing to watch and to listen to. He swooped around the stage like a wild-eye prehistoric bird, elbows out and his legs flying out in front of him.

Jim White’s drumming is some of the most inventive and unique in rock music. He was a dynamo behind the kit, playing impossibly complex patterns that only he could have imagined.

Meanwhile Mick Turner stood off to the side, almost a spectator at his own show. But it is his playing that anchors the trio and allows White and Ellis to go off into their flights of fancy.

The latter half of the show touched on the band’s rich back catalogue. The Restless Waves, from 1998’s Ocean Songs was a highlight as was Sue’s Last Ride, from Horse Stories, which closed out the regular set.

When the band left the stage, the house music and light came up and it looked like there would be no encore. But the appreciative crowd demanded more, and they got it. Two more…Ashen Snow, from the new album and a stunning version of the appropriately-named Authentic Celestial Music from Ocean Songs, and then it was over.

Those in attendance can only agree…it was a night of magic.

Marty Duda

Check out these stunning photos taken by 13th Floor photographer Michael Flynn:

The Dirty Three set list:

  1. Rain Song
  2. Sometimes I Forget You’ve Gone
  3. The Pier
  4. Rising Below
  5. Moon On The Land
  6. Some Summers They Drop Like Flies
  7. The Restless Waves
  8. Everything’s Fucked
  9. The Zither Player
  10. Sue’s Last Ride
  11. Ashen Snow
  12. Authentic Celestial Music