Troy Baker Played A Secret Last Of Us Concert In Sydney Tonight, And We Were There

Troy Baker Played A Secret Last Of Us Concert In Sydney Tonight, And We Were There

It’s not every day you get to see Troy Baker, the actor who played Joel in The Last of Us, appear in Australia. Rarer still, the chance to see him play some of his music.

Today, after an In Conversation event at Fortress Sydney as part of SXSW Sydney, Baker announced on his socials that he would be playing a last-minute gig. I was in an Uber with our writer Emily Spindler, heading back to our Airbnb after a long day on the ground at the festival, when she saw the post:

The whole direction of the trip shifted. Should we go? The gig started at around 6pm by our working and it was, by this point, 5:30. The decision was made: yes, we would go. Further, we would swing past the Pedestrian offices on our way to pick up Last of Us superfan Lauren Rouse, who would kill us if she missed the gig.

Held upstairs at Chippendale hole-in-the-wall Sneaky Possum, Baker played for a small, intimate room. The songs, he told the audience, were a selection called Songs For Joel. Baker wrote each tune, all very country-inspired, during pandemic lockdowns, and told the crowd he felt the songs that had come to feel more like they belonged to Joel than to him. Baker, on guitar and vocals, was backed by a trio of older local musos — a drummer, a pianist and a violinist — that he’d only met the day prior and rehearsed with once.

Some of the songs Baker played have been released online in different forms. Many have not. In those instances, I suppose you quite literally had to be there.

Baker and his band, on what they were told was a very strict time limit, played nine songs. He opened with Wayfaring Stranger, sliding smoothly into Joel’s growly lower register and gentle Southern drawl. Ball & Chain was a sweeping ballad about Joel’s relationship to Ellie. Dusty Old Heart and The Ballad of Tommy Miller moved the needle deeper into country lamentation before the quiet, hauntingly sad Blue Sky/Grey Sky brought the mood down. Devil was a foot-stomping, gang-vocal pub song in which Joel writes his own version of Devil Went Down To Georgia. Baker then ended the show with a short acoustic cover of Take On Me by A-Ha, and Joel’s now-famous rendition of Future Days by Pearl Jam, both of which feature in The Last of Us Part II. Told the gig needed to wrap up, Baker boldly surged on for one short, final track — Lullaby — to send the audience on their way.

Image: David Smith

The gig concluded, Baker briefly mingled with loitering fans in the bar downstairs, taking photos, hearing stories. One fan had managed to snatch Baker’s setlist and brought it over for him to sign. He told us he was getting it framed. I hope he does. It’s thanks to that fan I was able to get the song titles for this piece.

It was the kind of evening that only happens during an event like SXSW, a special right place, right time, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment.

Thanks, Troy. That was really cool.

Image: PlayStation

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