Kirin J Callinan @ The Foundry

Sleazy yet sultry

Kirin J Callinan is not a reluctant star. Far, but not too distant from the reaches of the slow-burning, aggrieved alpha-male pop ballads that pervaded the majority of 2013’s Embracism, KJC’s 2017 offering Bravado sees him remain an intriguing and charismatic balladeer. This time, however, the jagged edges have been airbrushed and the implosive guitars have had the volume turned down a few notches in favour of more electrical elements.

The last time I saw Kirin live would have been during the Embracism era, when the shows primarily consisted of the man himself, his electric guitar and a whole lotta looping. Bravado is an insatiable, colossal pop album and for all of its humour, drama, smut and light, doesn’t lend itself to the intimate shows of yonder. This time Kirin is backed by his band and arrives in a cowboy hat – he is fully-clothed but long time followers in the crowd could have surely predicted his torso would be revealed at the earliest convenience (and it was).

The second song of his set and the album’s opener My Moment and it’s sumptuously camp, EDM climax saw the crowd frantically dancing and embracing every one of Kirin’s thrusts, grunts and growls. The song transitioned into crowd pleaser Embracism during which he assertively snarled “Do you measure up? Or do you still have work to do?” before straddling and ultimately very impressively spinning the heck out of his guitar during the song’s chaotic conclusion.  

The diversity of the new release is clear when Kirin hits a winning streak playing four of the record’s single releases back to back and damn, they sound just as good live as they do in the recorded versions – he and his band play affirmation Living Each Day, tongue-in-cheek comedown anthem S.A.D, the earnest Bravado which closes out with those cheeky, glam-rock guitar licks and paddy synth lines and the sexy, jolty, creepy Down to Hang. By this point Kirin is lathered in sweat but is certainly not spent as he energetically dips and encourages his attentive crowd to do the same.

Kirin’s stage banter is spoken not unlike the deep syrupy drawl that he utilises on his recorded songs that is at times uncomfortably too intimate for such a crowded venue. It feels like The Foundry should be just you and Kirin with the way he sleazily whispers but he has attracted quite the curious swarm tonight.

The show closes with an acapella rendition of The Toddler which seems to be a sort of tradition at many of his live shows. Kirin manages to get through lines such as “I’m not a baby not yet a boy”, “I shake my rattle when I want my milk” and various poo references with stone-faced rock n’ roll conviction.

This acapella moment perhaps best manages to demonstrate just how powerful his voice and presence truly are even in the most comedic of situations. Isolated from his stellar band and instrumentations, Kirin manages to captivate with songs that blur the lines between depressing hedonism, celebration and self-preservation. Kirin’s own bravado is best ever clear when he straddles the stage and includes you in the process.

Liz Irwin


Zed Facts

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