THE WORKERS CLUB
With the Kiwi contingent high, there was little question tonight’s show was going to be a big one. Quite how big, was something of a surprise.
Opening act Mulholland, is a Kiwi with a Lennon-esque bite to his voice. As at ease singing as chatting, comments like 'I'm serious when I say you guys are awesome,” to cheers and claps, before deadpanning 'but we're better' make him instantly likeable. It’s a conclusion you could draw from hearing his songs. Existence is Futile is a heartfelt ballad about resurrecting Elvis to celebrate the opening of a sandwich ("There are days you look up to see / A talking vagina with a 50 foot wingspan"), and Let’s Go Fishing a blinding power-pop salvo featuring Elroy Finn on bass. Bizarre humour is a welcome change from the typically deathly serious troubadour, even if songs like the staggeringly beautiful Meet Me In The Hallway are anything but funny.
As soon as Teeth & Tongue take to the stage, the three very stylish Melbournians making some very stylish music are at risk of seeming pretentious; no easy-going Kiwi-accented banter here. But their vocal-heavy, keyboard-driven urbane swagger disarms the room of Liam Finn fans with an unexpected charm. Singer Jess Cornelius seems born to perform and the band generates an interesting take on atmospheric pop. At times T&T linger on Kate Bush-via-Fitzroy quirkiness but as the set builds and the room reaches capacity, it’s safe to say many new fans are won.
With no aplomb and loud cheers Liam Finn and Eliza-Jane Barnes amble on stage and launch into a set which lives up to Finn’s opening pledge: “We will play songs we find fun, we hope you do too. In fact we fucking promise you!” Tonight, there is a prominent use of electronics. Songs are reborn through a Line 6 delay pedal, allowing Finn to smash a drum kit while niftily triggering loops with his left foot. It’s not until mid-set and Fire In Your Belly that a folkie side emerges. To The Chapel follows and things get decidedly mellow for a few minutes before Finn is back looping heavy fuzz-saturated riffs and beating the kit.
Mulholland and Elroy then join for a mesmerising and blistering take on Cold Feet and we’re given the caveat: “We’re doing things differently tonight. We’re playing tomorrow and don’t want to double up.” More than a reinterpretation of songs, tonight is an example of loudly and lovingly articulated charisma, and it’s very hard not to be caught up.