Angus & Julia Stone, the musical duo from Australia and their traveling band, glided through Berkeley on Dec. 2, touring in support of its new album, Snow. Opening the show with “Baudelaire,” the band immediately set a serene tone to the show. The title brother and sister were captivating on stage, entertaining the audience and interacting with the band and making beautiful music while doing so.
Though this was an album tour, which usually means the band will play mostly from their new album, Angus & Julia Stone performed songs from several previous albums, including its biggest hit and crowd pleaser, “Big Jet Plane” from their album Down the Way alongside songs from the recent album, such as audience-favorite “Bloodhound,” “My House Your House,” and “Snow.”
The whole band performed wonderfully live. While everything it played sounded like it did on the records, it let a willing audience sing along to the music it knew and dance along to the music it did not. They even brought out crowd-pleasing instruments, inserting jaunty mandolin or harmonica solos into already joyful music, with a tambourine making a welcome appearance on more than one occasion.
The best part of the show was how the performers interacted with the audience and how comfortable the two leads seemed to be on stage. The group seemed genuinely happy to be in Berkeley on the world tour and even asked the audience where everyone could get beers together after the show. While Julia Stone was bolder than Angus Stone, interacting with the audience more, they both told stories of how the songs came to be, constantly interacted with the band and made everyone feel comfortable. They talked about how much they loved performing with their band and gave an introduction to each member, mentioning that the drummer would make everyone coffee on the tour bus.
The story the audience most reacted to was that of “Big Jet Plane,” told by Angus Stone. It could have just been the sweetness of the story — that he and a friend were hitchhiking to a music festival and he fell in love with the girl in the passenger’s seat — or the anticipation for their most popular song, but the energy in the crowd as he spoke was palpable. All throughout the concert, the band never let its audience’s liveliness go unrewarded with its all-encompassing sound.
This was an easily likeable show. The performers looked like they were truly enjoying themselves onstage, making the audience react positively to everything they did. While Angus & Julia Stone’s music is generally calm, the group added drums and accelerated the tempo of some of the songs so those in the pit could dance, which they did willingly. The venue was not one that demands an interactive audience, but that is what the band demanded, and so the audience was fully engaged when the band was playing and fully ready to sing along when instructed.
The lighting and visuals accompanying the performance gave the music an otherworldly vibe, with the screen behind the musicians switching between pictures of wildlife and infinite animations of animals — the aura that the visuals provided made the melodies seem more mysterious than familiar.
Yet, Angus & Julia Stone put on a beautiful, if safe, show. They didn’t take risks with their song choices or arrangements, but for a band that does not have widespread popularity, it was better to stick to songs the audience knew, and the audience in turn responded well. The simple melodies worked well with the ornate theater and interesting visuals, creating a well-rounded visual and auditory experience. The band was obviously happy to be there, and their enthusiasm in sharing their music made the concert an incredibly enjoyable one, even for those in the audience who only knew their biggest hit.
It didn’t matter that the band hailed from across the world — Angus & Julia Stone connected with their audience, saying how lucky they were to be here, sharing music and spreading love. Berkeley was lucky to have them.
Contact Sydney Rodosevich at [email protected].