We Went There: Big Thief play Wombarra Bowling Club
“This is already one of the most beautiful shows we’ve played” Big Thief singer/songwriter Adrianne Lenker tells an enthusiastic crowd as they occupy one corner of the Wombarra bowls club. Behind them, a wooden board neatly collates the names of past champions. Outside, misty rain falls and across the road, the sea rages. It’s a venue as unlikely as it is ideal.
The setlist includes a mellow, unnamed song which is only a couple of days old, as well as the gentle ache of ‘Paul’. These are songs that tread gently, but are compellingly intimate and emotionally bruising. ‘Real Love’ builds from embers of sound into something explosive and kind of shocking, with lyrics taking an abrupt turn into the details of an abusive relationship.
Darren Hanlon plays an oddball set of deep cuts (the dense, winding narrative of ‘Letter from a Mining Town’) and feelgood old favourites (‘Punk’s Not Dead). Throughout the mood is buoyant, not least when he plays new song ‘Lapsed Catholic’, which balances energetic vitriol with campfire singalong warmth.
At one point a dog makes his way through the assembled punters to conduct a brief check of the amps at the front of the stage. It’s that kind of show. They’re apparently going to knock this club down soon, but this is some way to go out. “My mum thinks I play stadiums” Hanlon laughs at one point. Give us a bowling club any day.