A successful tour is coming to an end and Jack Carty is planning on going out with a bang. “It’s the last show on the tour, so tonight is party time!” he announces at the start of his set at the Black Bear Lodge in Brisbane. You can tell he means it; the Sydney-based singer-songwriter comes across as the sort of likeable, down-to-earth bloke you’d love to have a beer (or seven) with, and it just so happens he makes charming folk storytelling look and sound as easy as opening one.
Support act The Falls take the stage first and warm the party up on a chilly Brisbane evening. The duo from Sydney has an appealing folk sound, a fantastic boy-girl dynamic, and harmonies coming out of their ears. The highlight of their set is their song ‘Hollywood’ from the EP of the same name, and between songs they entertain the appreciative audience with stories of how they formed, where they have played, and how Graham Nash recently made an impromptu appearance with them at a Sydney show.
Beer in hand, Jack Carty and his two band members (Soph on drums and Gus on bass) take the stage and the Black Bear audience goes silent in anticipation. With minimum fuss he throws the guitar strap over his shoulder and starts into opener ‘The Length of Canada’; his acoustic finger-picking perfectly complementing his sincere and meaningful vocal. Carty recently explained “when I think of the year 2011 in the future, I am sure I will overwhelmingly remember airports, highways, train stations and other people’s couches. This record is about that.”
Tonight he plays his new album Break Your Own Heart in order, as the captivated Black Bear crowd soaks up every second. Next up is ‘Too Many Things In Too Many Places’, followed by ‘Everything Unhappily’, with its tale of a “portrait of the Melbourne indie-hipster scene” being just one highlight of the set. The road-weary theme continues with what he describes as a “song about distance” in ‘Travelling Shoes’, before he swaps his acoustic for a telecaster and launches into ‘A Point On A Map’, which he introduces by its unofficial title as ‘The Newcastle Song’. He explains that a group of girls once requested he play ‘The Newcastle Song’ and the name stuck. Carty proves his voice sounds just as good with an electric guitar as it does to acoustic, and provides another high point to a thus-far electrifying show.
‘She Loves Me’ is next, followed by ‘Master Of All Things’, which Carty describes as “the only happy song on the album”. Once again the Black Bear audience greet the tune with a rapturous applause, before he straps on the harmonica and starts into the beautiful ‘Waiting, Waiting!’, describing it as an “attempt to write a happy song.”
The title track of the album is followed by ‘She’s Got A Boyfriend’; an up-tempo stomper, before Soph and Gus leave the stage for the last time for this tour to appreciative applause, leaving Carty to continue with ‘Giveth And Taketh Away’; another beautiful song with almost religious levels of reverence. He completes the song by pulling a wonderfully-sounding solo from his telecaster, before starting into ‘I Hope You’ll Come Around’.
The set is finished and Carty steps off the small Black Bear stage to the sound of applause and cheers all round, but with nowhere to go in the small venue, and the audience calling for more, he steps back up for one last song. Stating that one day he hopes to play a venue where he can go out of sight before an encore, he starts into ‘Hope’ from his first album One Thousand Origami Birds. It is a fine song to end on and there is obviously a lot of love in the room between performer and audience.
Overall, it was a great show of emotionally-heavy, world-weary, and ultimately fantastic folk, delivered by a young ‘every man’ performer with more of his career ahead of him than behind. The Black Bear Lodge is the perfect venue for Carty’s intimate story-telling, and after hearing him, the audience feels like they know him well. Catch him live if you can - this guy is the real deal.
Paul McBride - AAA Backstage