Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Tonight is clearly a night warmly anticipated by these several hundred hardy souls who braved a chilly spring evening to troop up the hill to the No So. And boy is it worth it. From the opening chimes of Seaworthy (worthy enough to come down from Sydney for this gig no less) to the closing crash of a sterling version of You Fool Your House Is Built On A Frozen Lake as Because Of Ghosts' encore this is a night that has "classic Melbourne gig" all over it.
Seaworthy subtly began the night with a concise yet narrative-heavy set of guitar drone and feedback-crafting that never becomes self-indulgent, indeed, it indicates what a full-length set of theirs would be like, and that's a very welcoming proposition.
Once the dark curtains reopen, the Stanton brothers and drummer Jacob Pearce take to the stage with an audience ready to be transfixed for the following hour, the lads set about doing just this from the opening shimmering chord...Announcing they would be playing their newly released album The Tomorrow We Were Promised Yesterday from beginning to end proves a wonderful idea and hearing it showcases its narrative cohesion to great effect. That it can still be so strong live is a testament to their inventiveness and the way their albums become a song, which not many bands can do.
It has been mentioned before that their live performances often outshine their studio recordings, as each song is slightly reinvented with each performance, tonight though, I'd have a hard time imagining better versions of these songs. Their onstage communication is a joy to watch also; possibly because they're so comfortable with each others presence and have rehearsed so thoroughly, but at times it seems like the song is being written as they're playing it, pulling them along in it's wake. Jacob especially, seems to be living out a percussionists dream playing their new songs, always adding to the atmosphere and dynamics without becoming them and endlessly pulling out new sounds or pushing a new focus onto a riff...A clear highlight of the evening was the open invitation to join the band on stage and share vocal duties for the already impressive song Bright Things Come To Confusion, an invitation enthusiastically taken up by about a quarter of those present. Within minutes the stage was packed with happy and willing fans of all ages, shapes and sizes. Instead of turning into a weird Polyphonic Spree-type freak show, it was a gorgeous choir of the type that would make Christmas-believers shed a tear, the words seemed to be well-known and couples, friends and (quite possibly) strangers were all knowing glances and wry smiles. Part way through the song, the punters calmly left the stage as the instrumental section kicked in and again the Because Of Ghosts engine roared back to life and into Epicdrive.
Once the record had been played and "My God...they're REALLY good," and various similarly gushing sentiments have been shared by various onlookers, another Stanton/Pearce family member Lily, arrives. If jaws could have gotten lower, they would have been, because this was a real revelation. Firstly, the fact that they played a Joanna Newsom song (Peach, Pear Plum) that they made their own (proving that there are quality tunes behind that oh so distinctive voice) before treading on what could pass for sacred territory in many a punter's mind and covering Postal Service's Such Great Heights. That they did it and did it so damned well; remaking it and taking into new melodic and rhythmic territories, would have been a crowning achievement were it not for the show-stopping version of You Fool, You Built Your House On A Frozen Lake which was all dynamite and fireworks.
All this AND free beautiful posters. What a band.