The Knitting Factory, New York
McDonnell Billboard, November 1989
full decade after they released their first single, Australia's
Go-Betweens have finally found a home on a major U.S. label. Presumably,
with the beautiful melodies and lush acoustics of 16 Lovers Lane,
their Capitol debut, they will reach the larger audience they should
have had all along. At this November 8 coming out party, however,
these ruminative popniks seemed as awkwardly shy and quietly
magnificent as ever.
three Go-Betweens made the cross-hemisphere journey for a few industry
showcases. Singer/songwriter/guitarists Robert Forster and Grant
McLennan have composed the band's core all along, and this
was especially their show; relative newcomer Amanda Brown provided
aural accompaniments on violin, oboe, vocals, and guitar. The show's
acoustic nature made it a laid back affair. By the end of the evening,
though, the Go-Betweens had managed to stir the audience's
record, McLennan's and Forster's vocals tend to merge
into one expressive sigh. Live, their different styles become distinct.
McLennan is the entertainer, bantering with the audience and hamming
around as he plays lovely guitar leads. Forster is the romantic
poet anxiously trying to express himself; during the evening's
performance of The Clarke Sisters, off last year's Tallulah
album, he reached out as if he could touch "their fantastic,
gorgeous, beautiful grey hair" if he weren't in a club
with a hundred people watching.
men write resplendently simple pop songs for thinking and feeling
folks. Their heads may be in the clouds, but they aim for the heart.
Even with the show's mellow tone and sometimes off-key harmonies,
songs like Clouds and Apology Accepted still gently but forcedly
resuscitated the audience's cardiopulmonary systems.