A collection of reviews and photography by Madeleine O'Gorman
Published in Music Universe 16.05.12
The diverse crowd sprawled outside the Hi Fi Bar tonight is buzzing, drawing curious glances from the more civil passersby. Prematurely packed with colourful characters, the band room is even more alive. Cowboy hats, Elvis quiffs and rockabilly chicks add an old-time vibrancy that only a few Melbourne venues can boast, and ever fewer bands can draw.
Mother and Son are the first to take the stage, playing below only a slight glimmer of purple light. Having been lucky enough to witness their live set a number of times, I can guarantee these guys don’t disappoint, nor ever seem to have a ‘off’ night. Initial glances from the crowd suggest intrigue at the two-piece drummer/guitarist combo before their talent is unraveled. Guitarist Bodie charges forth across the stage (and into the crowd) with surety, fusing surfabilly and rock with rich, rhythmical beats that has everyone onside.
Little John bring it down a notch albeit fluidly. Layering country-gospel harmonies over blues and folk-rock melodies, the five-piece both charm and inspire. The band seems a little distrait during the first-half of the set, yet make up for it in the second, with front man John Dickson jumping about the stage (and the audience), coaxing the initially-statued crowd to frolic about with him. Stage antics aside, at the heart of the set is pure, natural finesse, namely Put Your Hands On Me, a song that flourishes amid gorgeous harmonies.
Talk around town lately suggests that local lads The Toot Toot Toots are the buzz-band of the moment. While this is definitely true, the talent in their recordings extends far beyond the bout of exposure that a ‘buzz-band’ receives. Their first EP Curse the Crow, released in 2010 (albeit regrettably added to my collection only late last year), is a gravelly concoction of gutsy vocals, fast beats and danceable country tunes. Tonight however, is the launch of their long-awaited LP Outlaws. The lads arrive to a room packed from bar to stage, feverishly whistling and cheering. One song in leaves little wonder as to why they’re famed for their live show. They’re charming, but above all, look just as happy as we are to be here. Not to mention the striking, shimmying go-go- dancers who further lift the spectacle.
Gomorrah Fields is played early on, a song that blends all the best elements of the Toots – storytelling, brazen beats and that addictive spaghetti-western twang that ducks and weaves throughout their collection. The crowd favourite Tally-Ho has a military beat that bands the room together, heightened by the arrival of the impossible, sonorous vocals from the gravelly man himself, Danny Eucalyptus. His voice is one that must be heard in the flesh to be believed, one that will have you both shaking in your boots, but preaching to the end. Co-vocalist Giuliano Ferla, who doubles as a trombonist and percussionist, strikes the perfect balance for the singers and is instantly likable through his theatrical banter and thrilling vocals.
Oh!Maggie is another crowd favourite, one that displays a genuine camaraderie from the group for all to see. What stands out about the set is that it’s one of frenetic energy that has the crowd jiving country-western style, all the while never loosing that underlying hint of dark rock and blues. The crowd stomps like a marching army eager for the inevitable encore, to which they come prepared to sing a cover of Elo’s Livin’ Thing, a hilariously left-field (but awesome) addition before capping off the night with one of their biggest songs to-date, That’s My Boy, leaving us sweaty, spent but deliriously content.
Mother and Son
The Toot Toot Toots