CULTURE : Digging diamonds from the dirt; Dirty Three Birmingham Academy 2.
"It's great to be back home," says Dirty Three bandleader Warren Ellis. Despite his Australian nationality, the violinist, also a core member of Nick Cave's band the Bad Seeds, reveals that two of his ancestors hailed from Birmingham.
"One of them left of his own accord; the other one was forced to leave," he deadpans, displaying a disarming knack for dry humour.
Touring in support of their latest record, Dirty Three turn in a surprisingly virtuoso performance, Ellis pirouetting and flailing his gangly limbs while a glorious cacophony swirls around him.
The sans-vocal three-piece draw largely from Cinder, their seventh full-length album, revelling in an unholy amalgam of jazz, Americana, post-rock and classical strains, with gently brushed drum patterns underpinning subtle guitar parts and the frantic musicianship of Ellis, who flits between violin, viola and mandolin.
Alternately raucous and raggedly, intensely beautiful, Dirty Three's electrifying chamber rock is out of step with much of popular music, finding closest kinship with the post-rock fraternity and neo-classical contemporaries Rachel's.
There are also some choice selections from Ocean Songs - an album which the trio performed in full as part of the Don't Look Back season earlier this year, and which is widely regarded as being their finest outing to date. Taken from that long-player, Sea Above, Sky Below is deliciously downbeat, and although the funereal tempo never quite dissipates, Dirty Three's oeuvre is oddly euphoric.
Clad in a navy blue cardigan and dishevelled white shirt, Ellis marshals the trio as they reach a blistering crescendo before ambling off stage, their desire for flouting convention making them the unlikeliest of punk rock successes