Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Simultaneously dwarfing and inarguably enhancing tonight’s performances is the impression of this new Brunswick venue, Howler. Resplendent with floor to ceiling timber and purple lights and boasting a phenomenal PA system, Howler will hopefully be figuring far more commonly in readers’ gig schedules in the near future. 
Tonight begins with chamber-pop songstress Prudence Rees-Lee leading us on the musical equivalent a tour of The Wicker Man’s Summer Isle. Wearing a face-obscuring hat, Rees-Lee and her octet hit highlights from recent album Court Music From the Planet of Love and bewitch us in the process. Intricate and subtly atmospheric arrangements boast harp, strings, guitar and keys and push the richly complex songs. Parts interweave, enhance and echo each other, though Rees-Lee often seems as though she’s singing louder than she’d like to be. Closing with one of the year’s best songs, Morning, this is a set bursting with originality and talent, and a charismatic singer committed to making her own way. 

Oozing in from the electro pop of DJs Darren Sylvester and Hannah Higher Power, comes programmer Andras Fox. Warm bass pulses meld beneath mellow Kompakt-style tones; it's pretty sweet but ultimately samey stuff. Fox dabbles with African percussion and clipped, delayed melodies to inoffensive 80s-ish ends. Claiming he's not dancing due a squash injury, Fox churns through several sound-alike pieces of tinkly warm elevator techno from forthcoming album Café Romantica over which people happily chat.

Beginning with life-affirming album opener Adriana, Montero celebrate the long-delayed release of their debut The Loving Gaze in a glorious rush of bright, fizzing glee. Over projections of colour-saturated explosions, singer and songwriter Bjenny Montero arrives looking like a cross between Chrissy Amphlett and a young shaman. While the band has never sounded bigger, there is a sense of euphoric freedom here that seems rare in other bands.

Montero himself is so committed to the performance and fearless in his expression that the stage is a playground, allowing other personalities in the six-piece to shine through. Guitarist Geoff O’Connor’s slick chops and smoother visage sits comfortably next to Gerald Wells, a perfectionist intently dispatching fluid analogue synth melodies. Guy Blackman’s cheery avuncular electric piano work blends impeccably with drummer Cameron Potts’ wild and accurate additions and the bass and vocal work of Bobby Brave; it’s brilliant stuff.
Mumbai is a glorious spin in the sun, Clear Sailing loses its freewheeling nature in a new rushed arrangement, but the band can’t be blamed for reinventing a song with which the audience are familiar. Dead Heads Come to Dinner and Glam Campbell are closing highlights in a night full of revelations, and one the packed room reward with deafening cheers.

No comments:

Post a Comment