Australian siblings Angus and Julia Stone needed a couple of years apart to reconcile just how important they are to each other, both as family and as a band. They needed considerably less time to get the Showbox rocking on Sunday in an impressive, 70s-rock tinged set.
The Stones and their four-piece band came ready to play and used a searing version of “A Heartbreak,” from their recently released self-titled album, to set up what would become a familiar pattern: a tender, folksy opening followed by atmospheric rock that borrowed from blues and ’70s megabands like Fleetwood Mac. It worked to perfection and had the sold-out crowd whipped into an early frenzy.
The slow burn of “Main Street,” also a new song, highlighted Julia’s breathy soprano, which occasionally got lost in the mix but was surprisingly strong for how delicate she can make it. “Private Lawns” and the blissed-out, propulsive indie pop of “Little Whiskey” were other early highlights.
Tension and release were executed expertly all night, such as on “You’re The One That I Want,” which featured a snarling lap steel guitar solo from Angus that finally burst through the simmering build-up provided by Julia. Perhaps the biggest sign of how far the band has come since 2010’s “Down the Way” was a subdued version of that album’s hit, “Big Jet Plane.” It’s a perfectly good indie pop song and had the crowd singing along, but it lacked the sheen and dynamic crackle of the band’s new material, which was produced by Rick Rubin.
Despite relaying a couple of often-repeated stories (fans likely already heard the one about Angus forcing Julia to steal some Christmas lights from a store), the duo didn’t reveal much of their personalities and preferred to let their music speak for them. The crowd didn’t seem to mind, revelling in songs like the request “Devil’s Tears” and “Yellow Brick Road,” which gave the authoritative rhythm section one last chance to create an old-school rock moment.
“Heart Beats Slow,” the first song the brother and sister ever wrote together and their current single, was a triumphant note to end on, but the Stones weren’t done. They tacked on a nice coda, finishing with just the two of them alone on stage singing the haunting lullaby “Santa Monica Dream.”
When you stripped away the flash, the Rick Rubin production and the expert backing band, all that was left was two talented family members having just a bit more fun making music together. It was all it ever needed to be.