Jeff Lang Live @ Hugh’s Room, TO (Tue. Feb. 26, 2019)

by Jesse Read

We had the opportunity to watch Australian guitarist, singer & songwriter Jeff Lang perform during his stop to Toronto at Hugh’s Room. The Rolling Stone describes Jeff as Australia’s best roots-music musician and I have to be honest, I’m not that familiar with Australian roots music but after watching this set I can see how they got to that description.

This performance was part of Lang’s six show Canadian tour, stretching from B.C to Ontario. I have to say, Hugh’s Room was definitely the best spot in Toronto to see a show like this. An intimate room with amazing sound, where the audience is asked not to talk while the artist is performing. It’s rare to see a room with this much respect for the artist, and with Lang’s dynamic songwriting style I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

Jeff Lang has a style of guitar playing like I’ve never seen. Although he used a classic acoustic guitar for a few songs towards the end, for most of the concert Lang performed using an acoustic slide guitar hooked up to a barrage of pedals that to this day I can’t figure out. How he accomplished some of the sounds that he did, I’ll likely never know. But the amazing tones that he was able to create was only a small part of what made the concert so great.

His guitar skills come next in the list of things to blow my mind, I’m not sure where to even start on that one. Virtuoso. Expert. Aficionado. Whatever the right word is, he was amazing. He used old blues
and folk techniques (sped up by about 100 times at some points) and mixed it with Australian, African and Indian modalities. I’m convinced that the intricacy of some of his guitar parts would be truly impressive even for a metal shredder. He describes his style as “disturbed folk” which seems appropriate. It’s honestly one of those things that you have to hear and see for yourself, because my words could never do his guitar playing skills justice.

Words happen to be last thing that blew my mind that night. Lang’s knack for storytelling mixes american or british storylines and styles mixed with that australian humor and outlook that catches most of us Canadians off guard every now and then. Every one of his songs told a unique and intriguing story, and with nothing but his guitar and voice (he didn’t even stand up for most of the show, due to the slide guitar) he had the audience on the edge of their seats for most of the show, waiting to see what either came out of his mouth or his fingers next. His tone, guitar skills and songwriting ability made for a concert that I’m now telling all my friends about and that I certainly won’t be forgetting any time soon.