Diesel, aka Mark Lizotte, has got to be one of this country’s most versatile artists. Earlier this year, he entertained a large crowd at Stone Music Festival with a greatest hits set. At the Vanguard a month later, he was pairing these same songs back and throwing in some quieter covers for a solo show. And by October, Diesel was at The Basement launching his 13th solo album, with a band that featured his daughter and an artist he’d recently produced.
Tim Chaisson was – like at his Vanguard show – the support for the evening. He has also recently collaborated with Diesel for the Last Shower EP. Chaisson was yet again an excellent choice of support as he played a selection of solo songs and others he’d written with his band, The Trews. The music was mainly of the folk variety and there were a few sweet songs about love, including “Wherever You Are” which he’d written for his girlfriend and was also one she had told him she didn’t like!
“The Other Side” saw Chaisson playing acoustic guitar and stomp box as he sang about seeing his love on you guessed it, the other side. It was a gorgeous number, just like his other cuts, “The Healing” (one that had been promoted by Leann Rimes on Twitter) and “Slippin’ Away” (or a nice, simple ditty that even his young niece could sing along to).
He would also whip out a fiddle (first picking this like a ukulele, and later on playing it in a more traditional manner that evoked the spirit of The Chieftains). Chaisson was a pure folk troubadour, even if the fiddle seemed at odds with the whole ‘three chords and the truth’, he had been playing earlier. Chaisson is a great violinist and his playing even encouraged a few brave souls to do an Irish jig or two in the middle of The Basement. He had entertained us with his pleasant music and had us all eating out of his hands with the violin which prompted me to think, ‘Eat your heart out André Rieu!’.
Diesel’s Let It Fly album is his most country music-infused work-to-date. The guitar virtuoso had recently learnt to play the banjo and mandolin (adding to an already-lengthy list of talents) and these were used on a few tracks on the record and made it a quieter effort than his previous works. He would play these new instruments tonight as well as the electric and acoustic guitars. He lulled the audience in first by playing a new song that suits his blues rock catalogue best, “Moneymaker”. It had a big, ballsy sound that worked well with the band format.
The group were quite loud considering at first Diesel was only joined by a bassist and drummer. But what the trio lacked in numbers they made up for in sheer quality and skill in filling the room with sounds. Diesel knows his instrument back to front and uses so many great effects pedals and really gets the most out of it. This can mean starting out with an acoustic sound and amping things up mid-way to an electric (as happened in “One More Time”).
“Man Alive” had a funky bassline that was as twisted as the one Neil Finn had once sung about. For “Cupid’s Embrace”, Diesel was joined by Chaisson on the fiddle before the former swapped his guitar for a banjo for “By Your Throne”. Lizotte would kid that we must all be Tasmanians, seeing as we were all enthusiastic to hear this instrument.
These two musicians have certainly become very closely lately, touring and recording. They pair are almost like family and for “When It Rains”, Diesel was joined by his actual daughter, Lila Gold, on backing vocals. She returned during the encore for “If You Let Me Give”. The latter was a duet, where Gold did an excellent job of adding her sultry vocals and backing dancer moves to the number, giving it a great, pop edge.
Chaisson and Lizotte’s song, “Last Shower” saw some excellent acoustic guitars (6 and 12-strings) creating a relatable story. It was a chiming effect not unlike the melodic “Fifteen Feet Of Snow”, which was especially dream-like towards the end. But it was Diesel’s big hits like “Never Miss You Water” and “Tip Of My Tongue” that received the biggest reactions for the night. There was some daggy, dad dancing from people who weren’t gonna let a little thing like age stop them from having some fun.
In the encore the group offered a faithful version of “Wild Horses”. It was a tighter rendition than the one performed live by The Rolling Stones. The latter play it more haphazardly and in a way one writer described as ‘Unprofessional professionalism’. Diesel and ‘family’ would then bring it home with “Cry In Shame”, where many solos and jams were offered and where the star of the evening even got up on the table, before the audience were left to ponder the lyrics of ‘Goodnite Sweetheart, Goodnite’.
The evening had been a groovy one filled with excellent blues, rock and pop tunes from a guy that makes it look so effortless and cool. It’s no surprise that Diesel has boasted a long and fruitful quarter century in the music business. In 2013, Diesel knows how to keeps things fresh so that at times it feels like he’s just starting out listening to records and serving his musical apprenticeship, such is the power, musicality and passion he continues to bring to the table.
Diesel’s Sydney set list:
2. One More Time
3. Man Alive
4. Cupid’s Embrace
5. By Your Throne
6. When It Rains
7. Last Shower (by Diesel & Tim Chaisson)
8. I Don’t Need Love
9. Days Like These
11. Fifteen Foot Of Snow
12. Never Miss You Water
13. Come To Me
14. Tip Of My Tongue
15. The Miles
16. If You Let Me Give
17. Wild Horses (Rolling Stones cover)
18. Cry In Shame
Originally published on 13 October 2013 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/sydney/diesel-tim-chaisson-the-basement-sydney-11-10-13
Visit The Au Review’s homepage at: http://www.theaureview.com/