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Every member of Dirty Three has a highly respectable career outside of the band: Violinist Warren Ellis works closely with Nick Cave, drummer Jim White is a sought-after collaborator with an instantly recognizable sound, and guitarist Mick Turner has released a string of gorgeous instrumental solo albums when he's not working as a visual artist. But when the three musicians share a stage as Dirty Three — as they've done on and off for 20 years now — the result can be both beautiful and bonkers, as the opening moments of this Tiny Desk Concert amply demonstrate.
One of the loudest performances ever captured in the NPR Music offices — and it's got some competition from any number of brass bands — Dirty Three's set alternately seethes and rages in a flurry of high kicks, shambolic rumbling, prolific hairiness and dramatic yelling. Standing atop Bob Boilen's desk, Ellis cuts a stooped, lanky figure, but there's real physicality to his performance here, as he leads Dirty Three through three stormy songs: "Rain Song" and "The Pier" (from this year's Toward the Low Sun) and "Last Horse on the Sand" (from 1998's Ocean Songs).
Producer: Stephen Thompson; Editor: Denise DeBelius; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Christopher Parks, Ryan Smith; photo by Lauren Rock/NPR