Monday, December 7, 2009


Thursday, February 14, 2008 
Northcote Social Club

An oddly underpopulated No So soon becomes something approximating a love-in in a bird bath when The Motifs begin to work their magic. As with most shows of theirs, sound problems bedevil the band but the songs are rendered no less pretty for the malfunctioning keyboard or concerned sideways glances. Closing song Secret Address further proves that though they are worthy of all the support slots they've been gathering since their return from Nippon, honestly, what did we do for feather-light folk pop before they existed?

Another band that have been garnering more than their share of 8-point font in the gig listings are The Goods, and again, they live up to their name. Perennially reliable, the handsome rogues show that they could play the same set of tight, warm, countrified and harmony-rich slices of sparkling pop to 1 or 1 million people. More rock than usual tonight - perhaps a result of the mix - multi-instrumentalist Shags has never seemed more essential, and not just for his later heckling of The Ruby Suns. The half standing/half sitting audience are needled gently by singer Lachlan Franklin - 'stand up for my songs, sit down for his' he says, gesturing to fellow singer Ben Mason as Shags squeezes a smashed can of pop into the mic for South Of The River. The 60s influenced Traipse Through The Valley and smooth closer Movin' Right Along are highlights from a near faultless set.

To an audience keen to see Ryan McPhun's latest reinvention of The Ruby Suns, we are tonight witness to an electro-propelled, backing-track-heavy three-piece of multi-instrumentalists - a far cry from their rousing, audience-crashing set at The Rob Roy last year. Indeed, anyone who came late to their only official Australian release was scratching their head while getting down to the new 80s/psychedelic/mariachi/experimental pop they dish out tonight, a sequence that would only seem natural to those who had been paying close attention over the last two years. Thankfully, that includes most of tonight's audience who are given spectacular renditions of The Adventure Tour, Kenya Dig It?, Ole Rinka, There Are Birds and a mighty closing Tane Mahuta all taken from their thrillingly fresh and exciting Sea Lion album. 'Melbourne, you know how to bring it!' says McPhun nervously to a warm confirmation form the happy punters. Weirdly enough the audience are fairly static and even the usual crowd-rousing Oh Mojave is quieter than usual, understandable given the band are so busy rushing from bass to keyboard to drums fleshing out the song the way it needs. McPhun has buried himself behind a guitar, nine effects units, a sequencer, a electronic drum kit and half a dozen drums and various percussion instruments, most of which he uses in each song. Though he comes close to getting lost in the textures, he brings it home in the end, particularly on a new untitled track that begins on an island of 80s electro-pop heaven before becoming an oceangoing psychedelic wash that Pitchfork would rate to high heaven - further proof that we'll only ever be many months behind Ryan McPhun and his Ruby Suns. Anyone want to take a bet what flavour of psych-pop brilliance we'll get next time?

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