Thursday, February 14, 2013


Hamer Hall, Southbank, Melbourne
‘It’s lovely to be in a room like this, all together with each other,” says Real Estate singer and guitarist Martin Courtney gently, in a way that sets the scene for the careful subtleties tonight’s music will expound. Songs about floating on inner tubes and ‘careless lifestyles’ were written to be played on days like today and heard in rooms like this one. Tonight’s show is almost like watching an album, the sound is so immaculate, the band’s playing so precise, and the music so sharp. It’s rare to see restraint so consistently used in music but both of tonight’s bands are experts at it. Beach Comber, Out of Tune, Green Aisles and It’s Real all sound like they’re presented to us on velvet, their instrumental sections full of chiming guitars and entwining melodies, like a less adventurous Feelies. Closing with the trance-like rock of All the Same and its protracted, slowing conclusion, the five-piece and their most gentle of surf-rock leave the stage with broad smiles, as the audience move to mingle in the well-upholstered halls outside.

As Kings of Convenience take to the stage, bringing the crowd to its feet and sending reviewers to online thesauri in an effort to find synonyms for ‘lovely’, the grinning faces of Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe exude confidence and instantly make everyone glad they came. Opening with the pin-drop hush of My Ship Isn’t Pretty, Bøe’s nylon string thrumming is so delicate, their voices so warm and accents so strong they could provide Portlandia with a season’s worth of new material. Second to Numb, Love is no Big Truth and their early classic I Don’t Know What I Can Save You From highlight their harmonies before they reveal the real reason Real Estate were chosen as supports: ‘They are from Bergen, New Jersey,’ explains Øye slowly, ‘we are from Bergen, Norway. We thought we should find out what destiny was trying to tell us.’ 24/25 and Mrs. Cold from their most recent album Declaration of Dependence are sparkling mid-set highlights, though older songs Failure and Homesick gets the biggest cheers of recognition. Unexpectedly for many, a three-piece band with equally clean and clear intent behind ever note they play is introduced and things get very funky very quickly.

Any chance to allow Erlend Øye to dance should be welcomed with open arms, and so it is that Misread and I’d Rather Dance With You are played, and Øye gets very Dad-like with his dance moves. The fact he’s already six-foot something and skinny helps this rampant nerdiness and bringing equally exuberant audience members up to dance only accentuates this. Pausing Boat Behind to kill the house lights and encourage us all to make jungle noises for some strange reason only shows how much affection he’s held in. Freedom and It’s Owner is the first major deviation we’ve seen from the fantastic set they played at Laneway Festival. Closing with the gorgeous Parallel Lines everyone leaves sharing smiles and a feeling little warmer inside.

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