With a heavy bluegrass influence and hailing from New Zealand, Marlon Williams and band have started their North American tour right here in Vancouver.
The group is lead by lead singer Marlon Williams, who “cobbled a band together when [he] recorded the album,” said Williams. The self-titled album is Marlon’s debut solo album, “so it feels a little bit different. . . both daunting and exciting at the same time,” he told The Peak.
Although Marlon identified his music as folk, his sound is influenced heavily by bluegrass and country. Marlon said these genres are “the ethos, the philosophy behind the music that drives me most.” However, he admitted to listening to everything from hip-hop to classical.
“I always feel the most creatively free when I’m at home,” said Marlon on his inspirations. He continued, “the wide open spaces [of New Zealand] were really a big part of it; I guess that’s sort of a parallel with country music from America, it’s associated with an infinite amount of space.”
The touring lifestyle “really does get to you,” said Marlon. On the other side of touring, though, he says, “the masochist in me just likes the punishing nature of touring, it’s quite addictive. It feels like a marathon, once you hit your stride you get that sort of runners high. . . It’s a really invigorating feeling.”
Playing to a packed house, the show opened with Shelley Short, a singer-songwriter with a sweet, soulful voice. The audience was reverently silent as she sat on stage, just her and her guitar, performing a mix of original songs and covers.
After Short’s set, the crowd eagerly awaited the main event, pulling out chairs from storage to create a makeshift concert hall in the club. As Marlon Williams appeared on stage, the crowd went crazy, escalating until he started the set alone with his guitar, crooning about love.
The band soon followed him onstage with mandolin and upright bass in tow for a set of true-blue bluegrass, dressed in their finest country-hipster chic. The concert continued, flipping between upbeat tunes and soulful ballads, the set list studded with hilarious quips between songs.
After a few instrument changes, the sound became more folksy, and Marlon tried to end the set as it began: just himself and his guitar onstage. But after raucous applause, two encore pieces ensued, with the musicians ending the night together as a band.
With Willams great voice, solid band, and a passionate audience, the concert was an overwhelming success. Overall, Marlon Williams is a refreshing change in the folk music scene unique in the very best of ways.