[ Live Review] A State of Grace: The music of Tim and Jeff Buckley.

jeff buckley tribute

Gathered tonight in the halls of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre are several musicians all hailing from different parts of the world to pay homage to two musicians, a father and son;  one relatively unknown the other produced an album that is one of the greatest ever released. They are Tim and Jeff Buckley two musicians that were tragically torn from this world too young.

“Chase the Blues Away” sung by Cold Specks is a nice rendition of Tim’s song from the album Blue Afternoon and opens the show with promise. Her clear voice rings out across the auditorium and even though the song is not well known she sings it pleasingly enough.

Gary Lucas then takes to the stage to talk about knowing both men and his work with Jeff on songs Grace and Mojo Pin. Its a nice trip through his memories for any Jeff fan and adds a personal touch to the show.  Rare footage and recordings of Jeff play on the big screen ( sadly not enough of them) adding to the atmosphere.

The crucial thing about Jeff Buckley is that he had this amazing voice that was hard to emulate. Whilst most of the artists manage to sing the Tim Buckley songs quite nicely, when it comes to trying anything by Jeff the songs are completely butchered. Notes are not hit correctly and words are are forgotten on more than one occasion.

” Forget her” is flat and almost torturous as Martha Wainwright strangely refuses to face the crowd in an attempt to harmonize with Steve Kilbey and its painful to experience. During the bridge it becomes a farcical attempt to remember the words as Kilbey struggles with the song, the sound level of the band just loud enough to mask it.

Likewise with ” Everybody here wants you” as Cold Specks attempts to harmonize with Casper Clausen. Its as though he is almost trying to out sing her and drown out her voice and the result is horrible and not in any way enjoyable. Its such a let down to hear such a beautiful, sensual song destroyed by singers not capable doing the song justice. Cold Specks has the voice to almost pull it off if she had sung it alone and not let Caspar Clausen ruin it with his inability to hit the high notes.

As for ” Mojo Pin” Martha Wainwright makes an attempt to sing it nicely and she almost pulls it off until she gets the words wrong and neglects to sing an entire line. Its a difficult song to sing and could have been omitted from the set.

The only saving grace of the evening is Camille O’Sullivan’s lovely rendition of Lilac Wine; the melancholic Nina Simone track that Buckley covers towards the end of the album. Its refreshingly beautiful and she sings it sweetly. She certainly is a breath of fresh air in her cape and shiny silver boots.

Jeff and Tim Buckley were two great musicians the son’s talent far surpassing his fathers. In his short life Jeff Buckley produced an album that was to touch the life of millions for decades to come. His voice was pure and perfect and one that the world will never see the likes of again. When he died it left a great void in the music industry.

As a passionate fan of Jeff Buckley I can still recall the moment my 16 year old ears heard his voice in a friend’s basement as the chorus of  ” Last Goodbye” rang out int the late 90s. I became a devotee of this shy quirky artist right there and then. I never batted an eyelid when Kurt Cobain’s death graced the cover of Rolling Stone, yet Jeff’s death saddened me and still does to this day.  Several years ago as I stood on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi river in New Orleans; the body of water that cruelly claimed his life and mourned all over again for the loss of a man that could have produced so much more  greatness had he lived.

There are so many beautiful songs that both artists left behind, yet strangely none of them seem to have been chosen for the performance this evening.  If they had perhaps the evening would have been more enjoyable. Perhaps ‘ Last Goodbye’ or ‘Grace’ would have been more educated choices.

This evening saddened me somewhat to see Jeff’s songs butchered and sung so poorly and the music I love so much destroyed. Several times during the concert I was tempted to leave the room as lines were not sung correctly or forgotten all together. It was easy enough to cover any mistakes with the obscure Tim songs that were chosen( I am still puzzled as to why ‘Sweet Surrender’ possibly his best song was omitted) as Tim’s music is a little easier to sing. However when it came to Jeff more care and attention should have been used so that artists were singing the easier songs and doing them justice, rather than making a mockery of the good stuff.

If you are going to take the songs of two great men at least show some professionalism and sing them great or don’t sing them at all.



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