As the sweeping melahancholia of Theme de Camille by Georges Delerue (from Jean-Luc Godard's Le Mépris) fades out of the stage speakers, it's here in cloudy Sydney where the Apartments reveal themselves once more in their home country. A Saturday night in Marrickville after a long, moody day of dark clouds and a reprise of suit weather brings forth a stage-shy band and a faithful seated audience for only their third show in this town in over twenty years.
A lot has happened in this time; some things remembered for eternity and others best forgotten. And so it seems the veil of silence has been lifted with the release of a new single, Black Ribbons and a show in Melbourne a month ago in November. Or was it October? When it comes to the Apartments, time brings all things to pass.
Left to right on the plainly-lit stage is guitarist Eliot Fish, and beside him is Amanda Brown on her violin and tambourine. Behind her on piano is George Bibikos. In front of him and beside Ms Brown is chanteuse Christine Jane in her second appearance with the thousandth Apartments line-up. And on the far right - on a matching stool - is Peter Milton Walsh with a voice and an acoustic guitar.
Eleven songs are played. The arrangements and instrumentation resemble that of their last album Fête Foraine - exercising the intimacy of song without its pop and stripping colourful arrangements down to small flakes and piecing it all together again - no horn, nor drum. And in this supper-club space without cutlery, every word and note behind it demand a sense of attention. With Walsh to the far right, he looks to his and conducts the band through his softly tinted glasses and tapping feet.
Before the songs are played, some stories are told. And some tales. A little insight that takes you further inside the tunes than a lyric sheet or a liner-note could attempt. There's talk evil men, seduced women, the son of a French banker with symbolism in his veins, a record company and a river city he left thirty years ago.
And so the Apartments reopened for another night, checking out to sign in again at an unknown time and place. In the last thirty years, there's been more silence than sound. Songs are played or recorded when they're ready. This isn't anything new, it's just how it is. And as the show ends with one last song, it leaves us with two questions; and the curtain falls.
Where are the parties that were never held? Where are the snows that never fell?
Setlist: Thank You For Making Me Beg/All You Wanted/Knowing You Were Loved/World Of Liars/Sunset Hotel/All His Stupid Friends/Mr. Somewhere/On Every Corner/Things You'll Keep/Black Ribbons/Twenty One
All images and words - Donat Tahiraj. Brisbane.