Totally Biased Fan Review: Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell with Harmony James at The Star Event Centre, Sydney, Australia, Saturday, 27th June, 2015



Sydney crowds are notoriously hard to please. Last night, they rose to their feet twice to honour and respect two American country legends. The concert celebrated Harris and Crowell’s two albums together: Old Yellow Moon (which won a grammy….Emmylou jokingly pointed out twice) and the recent magnificent release: The Traveling Kind. (See review on this blog). It also showcased some of their individual hits, which was a welcome surprise as I thought that they may only sing songs from their collaborative efforts.

I am getting ahead of myself, though. The opening act was our own Harmony James. Fittingly, she began with her song: Emmylou’s Guitar and then sang songs off all of her three albums. I was surprised at how many people around me had never heard of her, but I wasn’t surprised when their reaction to her incredible vocal gymnastics and wonderful story songs were well applauded. A lot of people were quite stunned with her performance and they chatted about her in the break. When Harmony said it would be her last song, there was a bit of a sigh from people around me. Harmony was nominated for several awards in this year’s Golden Guitars at Tamworth. Her latest album, Cautionary Tales is one of the best albums produced in Australia in recent years. Hopefully, this exposure will help spread the word.

Emmylou and Rodney and the band arrived onto the stage to massive applause. As I said earlier, they sang some of their own hits as well as the songs off their two joint albums. Emmylou is probably better known in Australia to the masses, though Rodney has always had a cult following and he is a particular favourite amongst fellow musicians and critics. The crowd had a smattering of musicians and well known music identities amongst it, so that shows the respect that the industry has for Rodney and Emmylou.

When they sang Love Hurts and a couple of others that Emmylou had hits with Gram Parsons, and the classics like Dreaming My Dreams with you and When we were beautiful (one of my fave songs of all time), the crowd lifted and remembered. The more bluesy, guitar flavoured songs had people’s feet tapping too.

Another surprise was Jedd Hughes being in the band. Jedd has been a guitarist for Patty Loveless and many others in the States. He is also from one of our states, South Australia. I saw Jedd at Tamworth a few years ago now, he is an awesome guitarist.

I loved watching the people in the crowd wondering what hit that they were going to sing next. Emmylou’s sense of humour, her beautiful, haunting voice that never faulted, and her passion for the classic songs that we all hold dear shone through. Rodney’s superb craftsmanship, easy going style, sincerity and poetry had us all enthralled.

The tight, seamless band that mixed it up with Cajun spice and smooth sounds were a gift in themselves.

They sang my favourites off the new album, and they sound as good live as they do on record. To have one of these legends on stage is awesome, to have two, well, it is magic. Harmony came on to sing with them in the encore, and she sure blended in well.

As the crowd poured out, I heard many in the crowd say that it was the best concert that they had ever been to. There was a certainly buzz, even on the light rail back to Central Station.

Thank you for coming to our shores, may you return to them soon.


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