DIESEL is playing Lismore's prestigious Star Court Theatre on his Velvet Curtain tour of regional theatres. Playing solo in a large, grand space such as the Star Court can be an intimidating gesture. Arlo Guthrie pulled it off recently, but he's been doing it all his life.
Diesel's been backed by rock bands for 25 years, during which time he has released 35 singles, 13 albums and won six ARIA awards, with record sales edging one million. So why launch a fresh angle at this stage of a career?
"I've never really done anything like this before. The minute you walk in to these theatres you think, 'I'd better raise my game' - you feel like greatness has to be achieved," he said.
He's playing from a vast repertoire of songs, everything from his first album to unreleased stuff and a smattering of covers.
"I still love playing those loud rock gigs, but there's a lot more canvas to fill in these kinds of shows," he said.
"It allows me to play a bunch of different instruments - electric guitar, banjo, mandolin and slide guitars, which is a lot more fun for me. Playing acoustically is like trying to paint a picture with more than one colour. It's nice to have a bigger box of crayons."
Diesel cites Colin Hay (ex-Men at Work) and Neil Finn as two performers who encouraged him to go it alone.
"Colin Hay was one of the first solo acoustic performers who took it to a whole other level. But I saw Neil Finn in New York and we did some playing together. He's incredible. He totally captivates the audience," he said.
When he spoke to The Scene, he was just back from Canada, having played 10 days straight, from Toronto to Nova Scotia.
"I'm still kind of recovering from the intense cold and changed sleeping patterns. But I'm back into the saddle and touring right through 'til the end of June. Then I'm having holidays for the first time in a long time," Diesel said.
Diesel revels in this blistering schedule. He just put together 140 pieces of music for the soundtrack for the new TV series, Bikie Wars, and is finishing up a rock'n'roll tour before embarking on the Velvet Curtain run.
"Momentum is good," he reckons. "It's easier on my voice and my fingers. Otherwise it hurts if my calluses start to soften up. It's good when you can see what's up ahead of you."
Diesel plays the Star Court Theatre on Friday, April 19 from 8pm. Tickets are $55 through 6622 5005 or starcourttheatre.com.au.
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