No offense to Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, but the best concert I’ve seen by an Australian band so far this year wasn’t their show in Louisville last month but the one Luluc put on in Seattle last night. The two bands have almost nothing in common other than their country of origin, so maybe it’s not fair to compare them, but I went ahead and did it anyway. I thought it made for a good opening sentence.
Let’s go back a couple weeks. Beth and I were on the phone and she mentioned she wanted to see Luluc when I was in town. Although I knew the band had two songs on a Nick Drake tribute a couple years ago, I’d never heard any of their original material. I went ahead and agreed to the concert. The way I looked at it, if Beth could go see Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds with me, then I could go see Luluc with her.
I wanted to be prepared, of course, so I did some research. I found out that Luluc is a duo comprised of Zoe Randell and Steve Hassett. They released a CD called Dear Hamlyn six years ago, did the Nick Drake tribute, and then signed with Sub Pop who was scheduled to put out a new full-length called Passerby in a few days. I went to Everybody’s Records on release day and picked up a copy of the new Luluc. I took it home not really knowing what to expect.
I’m happy to report that I immediately fell for Luluc’s songwriting and beautiful harmonies. Passerby quickly became one of my favorite releases of 2014. Luluc has an early 70s British folkie-thing going on, but the quality of their lyrics puts them above most of the hippy-dippy singers and bands from that scene. It might just be that Zoe Randell’s voice reminds me of some (forgotten) singer from that era. I don’t really know. There are also a few contemporary bands I’ve heard that have a similar sound…specifically some from that The Sound the Hare Heard comp I got last year. They also remind me a bit of Over the Rhine. I’m rambling, I know. Let’s just skip to the concert.
This was my first show at the Fremont Abbey. It’s a small, intimate venue with good sound. It lent itself well to Luluc’s quiet, sometimes fragile-sounding songs. I remember thinking it felt like I was among friends seeing a show in someone’s living room. It was that kind of atmosphere. Luluc played nine of the ten songs on Passerby. My favorites were “Small Window” (which has a lovely video) and “Reverie on Norfolk Street”. The title track was also a highlight, but it was slightly marred by a skunky weed cloud that showed up for about three minutes and then promptly dissipated. Luluc finished their showcase of new material and then closed out the evening with two older songs from Dear Hamlyn. The first of those (fake) encore songs, “Little Suitcase”, is a particular favorite of Beth’s. She likes it so much that she actually blurted out a request for it. I’m glad they agreed. As always, here’s the setlist:
Main set: Early Night*/Without a Face/Reverie on Norfolk Street/Senja*/Small Window/Winter Is Passing/(country girl vs. suburban boy)/Passerby/Tangled Heart/Star
(Fake) Encore: Little Suitcase/I Found You
The two songs marked with an asterik were songs that Luluc had never played live before. “Country girl vs. suburban boy” wasn’t a song; that’s just the name I gave to the humorous story Steve told about meeting Zoe’s father for the first time. I usually don’t include stories in my setlists, but this one was worth documenting.
I should also mention that the opening act was a Seattle singer/songwriter named Sophia Duccini. I liked her enough to puchase a copy of her In the Nature EP.