Black Bear Lodge is bursting at the seams as Marlon Williams, self professed 'gangly Kiwi country singer' (but in reality a man of many mojo's) ambles onstage on his lonesome first up. His charmingly disarming manner wins the crowd in a heartbeat as he commences with a couple of stripped back numbers, including dusty blues standard Cocaine Blues, his nakedly unadorned and moving vocal presence immediately melting collective hearts in the room.
He's then joined onstage by matchingly attired musical comrades The Yarra Benders, who initially ease their way into proceedings with a handful of traditional bluegrass and country inflected offerings, the band's sweet vocal harmonising proving to be a particular highlight. The Yarra Benders are a 'son of a gun' perfect musical foil tonight, delivering their parts with poise and panache and providing the prerequisite light and shade to allow the music and THAT voice of their band leader to unfold and resonate warmly throughout the cosy confines of the venue.
Williams proves equally adept at sombre, stately offerings such as State Hospital and weepily sweet moments of Laurel Canyon infused country rock, as well as more barnstorming, rollicking fare, as evidenced on Hello Miss Lonesome, the opening statement of intent from his recently released self titled debut record ...Yes he is truly 'the man' for all occasions.
As time stands still and the crowd bay for an encore, Williams returns alone again for a goose bump inducing version of When I Was a Young Girl, voice quivering, wailing, cooing, and piercing the psyche of each and every spellbound soul present at tonight's sold out performance. The band then return for one last hurrah, peeling off an effortlessly smile inducing take on the classic Zombies track Time Of The Season, leaving all and sundry on an exhilarated high.
For one so young Marlon Williams is already being spoken of in hushed tones of reverence and awe, best hitch your wagon now..