michael plater - The I-94 Bar
Michael Plater live. Fawnia photo.
Now, there are a few of you out there who read The I-94 Bar regularly. You may have noticed I'm rather a fan of Australian musician/songwriters Michael Plater and Tim Hudspith.
Plater's music spans various indie, gothic folk, country and “noir” influences, and his first two albums “Exit Keys” (2012) and “Mythologies” (2016) have received worldwide critical acclaim. Hudspith plays guitar with Goldentone, Colourhweel, The Low-Fi Cowboys, Death Valley PTA and Dead Eyed Seraphim and is a solo artist in his own right.
This month Melbourne-based Plater and Adelaidian Hudspith (a Ballarat expat) will be touring select interstate venues with intertwining dates, plus some shows in their own right at the end. So, Sydneysiders, Brisvegas residents, Canbrites and Newkies, get out of the house. Dates are at the bottom of the article.
I was hoping to see the two Sydney shows, but... as you know, Adelaide's electricity bills aren't what they used to be, so I had to content myself with doing an interview with both Plater and Hudspith..
Let me tell you, I'm excited. Expatriate Australian guitarist and singer-songwriter Michael Plater is making a welcome return to Adelaide since leaving to pursue twin careers in the UK in 2019. If I can see this guy live, I don't need to see Dark Mofo.
Now, I rate Michael Plater's songs and music so highly that I've seen him play in three states and if I were able to, I'd go see all his gigs while he's here. For the last three years he's been writing and recording like a demon, his new work eclipsing his brilliant, powerful debut, “Mythologies”..
So, Michael, you returned to the Mother Country. You didn't exactly head for the smoke and smother of London, I gather...
No, my partner, Fawnia, and I ended up living in Cornwall, way down west, right in pirate country. When we visited the Witchcraft Museum in Boscastle and, for someone like me, who’s drawn to folklore, occult history, and anything vaguely supernatural, Cornwall made perfect sense.
It’s a land of moors, standing stones, castles, and smugglers dens, with a healthy dose of mermaids, ghosts, and piskies. All the old girls in the shops call you either ‘my treasure’, ‘my lovely,’ or, even better, ‘my lover.’ The further west you go, the more impenetrable the accent gets. By the time you hit Penzance it’s like talking to some barnacled old sea dog from the 17thcentury.
It’s a place that is torn between tourism and poverty, like a lot of the U.K. Most of the beautiful old fishermen’s cottages are unfortunately second homes for ultra-rich Londoners who descend on the area en-masse in summer, which means that it’s getting harder and harder for locals to afford to live there. Or me, for that matter. But all these influences and atmospheres have definitely seeped into the music I’ve been writing and recording. I’ve also been working on a book and/or series of essays about the history of Cornish witchcraft, which I’m hoping to finish next year.
Michael is no stranger to writing books, either, with the EU Publishing website describing him thus:
Ripley Hood in front of Brando Rising. Robert Brokenmouth photo.
In which your scribe receives news and loses it a tad. This is a very partial review… I missed quite a few things … oh, dear.
So, an Adelaidean in Melbourne negotiates buses, trams, and other hurdles (including a Lebanese cab driver who’s lived here for 40 years and still has an accent like a wheel of cheese to a plastic butter knife) to arrive at a record shop.
With a Budget flat-bed truck outside.
The Third Degree - Mushroom Planet (Planet Records)
Anarchy in TwentyTwenty - Ben Gel (BadAss)
The Glue - Tom Redwood (self released)
Diarrhoea Part 2: The Shittening - Geezergosis (self released)
Saint John's Eve - Michael Plater (Hypostatic Union)
Nina Simone apparently once said, “I'll tell you what Freedom is to me. No fear.” She meant, of course, the everyday fear. That no matter what she's doing, or where, she could be attacked or killed just for being what she was.
We're a pretty intolerant, brittle lot, we people. We really are. One of the several reasons I refer to COVID-19 as "the stupidvirus" is that it seems to have brought out all the stupids in our assorted societies. Our cracks and inadequacies are there for all to see, and people die because of vanity, of an inbuilt reluctance to face up to ugly or inconvenient truths.
"Yeah, I don't care if you throw all the ice in the world. You're payin' 5 bucks and I'm makin' 10,000 baby, so screw ya!"
It won't won't cost you five bucks, actually, and it probably won't remotely resemble "Metallic KO" but do we have your attention yet?
Acclaimed Adelaide writer/filmmaker/journalist/musician/I-94 Bar reviewer Robert Brokenmouth will be doing a very special reading from his latest work "101 Nights" at the Lyrebird Lounge in Melbourne on Saturday, February 4, accompanied by Michael Plater and Nick Spaulding.
Also performing will be Duet (Harry Howard, Edwina Preston and Craig Williamson), Michael Plater, and Cabin Inn.
Who the fuck does Henry Hugo think he is?
Argentinian. Lives in the evil gnome capitalist capital, Zurich. Will only eat meat-lovers pizzas. No poncy vegetables or fruit for this Dark Lord carnivore. Would probably munch on dwarves if he could catch them unawares. One of these sentences is a fib.
And here he is, this Henry Hugo, writing songs like "Cold Night in Warrnambool", "Deep Lead Creek" and a whole host of others inspired by … erm, well. Us. Orstrilians. Strayans.
Well. There’s a lot of people in Australia. Millions born here, born and bred, who are, frankly, so repulsive in themselves they should be taken out to sea, tied to an old fridge and set free…
Henry Hugo is, like several other overseas-born artists, an honorary Australian. He loves Australian culture, the country, the people, how and why we live here. It’s not a political thing. He’s not a potential Swiss immigrant who complains about the cowbells, or a Muslim grumpy because we don’t [fill in the assorted blanks here], nor is he a reffo.
I'll tell you about who these characters are in a minute. But first, “Lurid Tales…” is brilliant.
What a huge sound. Big breakers of broken chords... huge, ripping silences. God, I'm hooked.
Really, I cannot emphasise this enough, “Lurid Tales…’” is a huge, majestic achievement. It's mature, gothic, simple, complex. And I'll be listening to this not just for weeks, but for years.
“Lurid Tales…” is both not at all what I expected Melbourne’s Michael Plater to be involved in, and exactly what I expect from him. And no, that's not a contradiction.
Cabin Inn, Michael Plater and Tom Redwood at The Barn near Adelaide. It’s up the hill on the unpaved road, dodge two donkeys and a sot in a ute, down the hill and round the bend and there you are. Just follow the signs.
Of course, I’m kidding a little about how to get to Aldgate’s The Barn. There might not have been quite as many donkeys, for example. But it was an adventure, since none of us had been there before.
The Barn is a combination of things, and it works surprisingly well. Rather like the Wheatsheaf Hotel but just outside of the city, it’s an artist’s space (to five artists, it seems) as well as a gallery/learning centre/wine hall which serves decent grub. And they’ve been having music on.
Each of these requires repeat listening, possibly with a bottle of red, one or two glasses and (in my case) a hanky.
A couple of weeks ago we went out in Adelaide to see these folks play the Hades Hula Hut, and the next night The Metro. Both Marsden and Tim rather rashly pressed their offerings into my paw, not knowing that I am trying desperately to cut down on my reviews.
Seeing them all play, of course... yeah, and here I am, listening to Marsden's little cassette on my little boombox in my cold little room. So this will be a quick overview...
The first time I saw Melbourne guitarist Michael Plater I confess I didn’t get it. He was working on a style, which involves building up a mixture of tone and counter-tones, emotion in the strings lending timbre to the vocal.
I only saw a couple of songs, however; since then I’ve seen him on his last two trips to Adelaide, and can tell you that first, on his own he is a very different kettle of vermin, and second, with folk like Dean Richards or Cabin Inn, the stage is not a safe place.
Dateline: Adelaide. Hugo Race (pictured right) and Michelangelo Russo arrived at the venue shortly after 4pm, just in time for a swift soundcheck, have a couple of beers, smoke a couple of rollies and a cigar (respectively) while Michael Plater was on.
Quizzed later about their 4am wake-up to drive from St Kilda to Adelaide’s West End, Hugo denied it being a hard trip. "Warsaw to Paris, that’s a hard drive" … you knew he meant non-stop.
And it’s not the first time Hugo’s done this drive; this time he was captivated by the patterns of light, the yellows of the rapeseed, a stand of blasted trees waving in the wind… Charlie Marshall does this kind of thing. Not so much old school as a rediscovery of the essence of travel.