The city of Adelaide, Australia, really comes alive in March, hosting The Adelaide Festival of Arts, The Adelaide Fringe, WOMADelaide Festival and the Clipsal 500, pretty much all at the same time. The Adelaide Fringe is an offshoot of the Adelaide Festival, much like the Edinburgh Fringe in Scotland.
Adelaide’s Kadlitpina Park (part of the East Park Lands), transforms itself into The Garden Of Unearthly Delights, Australia’s most vibrant and exciting festival precinct. For four weeks it offers a huge range of dynamic cultural creativity, housed in temporary venues, aimed at all ages. Originally, 17 years ago, The Garden of Unearthly Delights began with just one Spiegeltent. It is within the Spiegeltent that I saw Ash Grunwald perform on 1st March 2017. Ash is one of Australia’s favourite blues/roots musicians. With nine albums to his name over a fifteen-year career, he is soon to release his tenth. As a preview, he is showcasing the single ‘Hammer’ as he tours the country, first stop being in Adelaide.
All shows performed in ‘The Garden’ (as it is affectionately called) are 1 hour in length. This definitely wasn’t long enough for Ash Grunwald to perform all of his signature songs. He opened with one of his most popular tracks ‘Smokestack’. Second up was ‘Hammer’. He didn’t waste any time in presenting his new single, which is based on traditional blues riffs with an easy to sing-along to chorus, ‘I was born with a hammer in my hand, and I’ll die with a hammer in my hand’. The repetitive groove is reminiscent of a slow hammer beat and transports you mentally to the streets of New Orleans.
Ash was joined on stage by South Africa's finest bassist, Uncle Tio, who also performs with Xavier Rudd and has the same roots as Ash Grunwald. Dave was introduced on drums. Together they played several of Ash’s signature tunes including ‘Longtime’ (one of my personal favourites), ‘Shake That Thing’ and a blend of ‘Change’ and ‘Breakout’, stopping one song half way through and starting the next. He really tried to fit as many songs into one hour as he could. He creatively performed a Rag ’n’ Bone Man cover, ‘Human’. Ash introduced this song by saying they both have similar-sounding voices and style, which is very true and he nailed his own version. He also performed a brief solo section before calling Tio and Dave back on stage.
Ash tried to keep his dialogue down to minimum, which was hard for him, as he likes to interact with the audience and take requests. Toward the end of the set he allowed the audience to choose, but finished with the slower Bill Withers cover ‘Ain’t no Sunshine’, making it clear that sadly, time was up.
Ash puts so much expression and passion into his live performances. It’s always fun to watch his vibrancy on stage. I’ve seen Ash perform several times now. I love coming back for more. If you’re able to catch one of his shows on this tour, I highly recommend.
ASH GRUNWALD "HAMMER" LAUNCH
Wednesday 1 March: Garden of Unearthly Delights, Adelaide SA
Friday 3 March: SS&A, Albury NSW
Friday 31 March: Northcote Social Club, Melbourne VIC
Saturday 1 April: Bleach Festival, Coolangatta QLD
Friday 7 April: Woolly Mammoth, Brisbane QLD
Saturday 8 April: “Revamp the Amp” Kuranda Amphitheater, Smithfield QLD
Saturday 15 April: Newtown Social Club, Sydney NSW
Sunday 16 April: Crafted Live, Wollongong NSW
Thursday 27 April: Prince of Wales, Bunbury WA
Friday 28 April: Boston Brewery, Denmark WA