Monday, November 16, 2009


Monday, December 17, 2007 
Northcote Social Club

There is a palpable sense of exhausted happiness tonight at the No So. With The Smallgoods' Lachlan Franklin establishing early on that some had made the trip from Meredith to catch the show (both bands also having made the trip today) and it being at the end of a long warm day, people are content to flollop on the floor to the spacey country swing of The Smallgoods. Sometimes sounding like a reigned-in No Other-era Gram Parsons while looking like five guys from Port Fairy who just happen to be able to throw together glorious homespun tunes, it's like lying in a field after a hard day's work staring at early stars. Opening with City Of Sky and winding through other highlights of their recent and recommended Down On The Farm album (including a languid and mighty South Of The River), The Smallgoods seem as comfortable and as familiar as their songs. The closing Traipse Through The Valley wins the "most appropriate song to listen to after Meredith" award and, were it not followed by one of the better gigs of recent memory, would have made a perfectly-judged closing song on tonight's entertainment.

As it stands though, the Doctor is IN. With the No So about half filled by some clued-in folk and recent converts, a cluster of dancing girls at the front and members of various bands making informed heckles throughout, Dr Dog put on one of the year's most ferverently played and warmly-received gigs. Occupying their own middle ground of soul, indie rock, yacht rock harmonies and with a nice line in in-jokes ('we're the American Cold Chisel' deadpans bassist and vocalist Toby Leaman) the energy levels never dip below nine as they spread smiles further and further across the faces of the rapt punters with each twisting turn of their never conventionally structured yet instantly familiar-sounding songs. Kicking off with My Old Ways track two from their new album We All Belong, Dr Dog set a revived 'woo-hoo'-ing and wildly applauding crowd into action. More fuel is given in the form of dynamite twin-lead guitar lines in Ain't It Strange the surging Keep A Friend proving that they are one tightly wound band and this is going to be one thrilling ride. With a soul-searing wail Leaman gives us their 'golden moldy' The World May Never Know which reveals their songwriting chops and ability to wring a positively Redding-like energy and conviction from the lyrics. Songs that sound mid-paced and worthy on CD are rendered phenomenal live due to their tight harmonising and sheer vitality; sweat pouring from their faces, actually making rivulets over Leaman's bass and their occasional resemblance to a ska band with their jumping and careering. When Architecture In Helsinki join them for their cover of Heart It Races (which is both indicative of Dr Dog's idiosyncratic approach to genre and totally misguiding as to what to expect from this gig) it becomes a good-natured shambles that still pulses with the fun that both bands bring to the song making it very hard not to smile along with them, but it's the force and unforced catchiness of the closing two tracks Say Something and Wake Up that inspires further noising of the crowd and excuses encores. A truly amazing show.

No comments:

Post a Comment