Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Monday, June 04, 2007 
Northcote Social Club

The Falls, fronted by a rhythm guitarist Simon Rudston-Brown (usually preoccupied with backing Missy Higgins) tonight welcomes early-comers to a classier than usual No So. Two singers, two guitarists, faultless harmonies and tasty lead guitar work are the hallmark of The Falls and though their songs are competent enough, it's a tough crowd to be impressing tonight. Despite their arena-ready deafening volume, a factor that actually works against the intimacy of the songs, there is a noticeable absence of people around the merch desk mailing list following their set. Perhaps songs like [It's Not What You Know It's] Who You Know leave people cold. Closing Please however, is a glorious song in any setting. Very Sydney and very unlikely to be in an opening slot by the year's end.

Following a crowd swell come Mercy May. Already signed to Inertia, there has been steady hype about this band and within the brief soundcheck it's clear why. Frontman Dan's voice stops conversations and turns heads. The only thing biting harder than the cold outside tonight is the sheer amount of treble coming from the stage. Lead-guitarist Chris's lines and that Lennon-impersonates-Lydon helium-fueled alto clean out any sundry earwax and impresses in a way that four static guys in their early 20s dressing like Tom Waits doesn't. Once your attention has been wrested and song follows song, it's hard to remain intrigued. By-the-numbers riff-based blues bashing is nothing new, and much of the material is frankly tedious. Songs like You Got Me and Now Now Now indicate there are ideas and these will doubtless bloom with time, but for now, showmanship is what we've come to see.

The nice-coat-and-sculptured-hair crowd are out in force tonight, and when roadies bring out glasses of scotch on the rocks for the band, there is no doubting classiness is order of the evening. Even with this prelude, jaws fall at the arrival of the band. Looking like renegades from Slytherin; black waistcoats, new-romantic shirts, and wearing expressions of keen disinterest, Levi's backing band Woman are a thing of wonder; to say nothing of Levi himself. Like a cross between Kenny Loggins and Jack Sparrow and dressed like The Karate Kid, he is the most shameless showman to grace a stage in this town for a long time, and, he has the tunes to back it up. Kicking off with Sugar Assault Me Now the band instantly lock into their trademark taut grooves; Bo Diddley via Neu. Song titles are irrelevant (by here are some if you want them: Pick Me Up Uppercut, Blue Honey, LA Morning Light, A Style Called Chicken) as everything is a variation on 'Groove In E Major', and like Jerry Lee Lewis said about Bo Diddley (who's titular song gets an a sample amidst LA Morning Light): "If he ever gets outta the chord of E, he might be dangerous". Their music is however, incredibly exciting, as is the way their three-minute thrill rides on record get stretched to eight minutes of tightly-leashed workout. Though the same five notes are used for every guitar solo, it's the excitement of Levi as a performer and the stylish force of the band that make the show work, and ensures no one leaves disappointed.

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