Saturday, 14 May 2011

Gig Review - Birds of Tokyo, The Cairos, 11/05/11

Birds of Tokyo have enjoyed immense success on the back of their self-titled 3rd record over the past year and returned to Brisbane on Wednesday for the first time in 2011 to play to a sold out crowd at one of their favourite venues, The Tivoli.
The support act was local band, The Cairos who played a solid 45 minute set. They produced an energetic show with their blend of pop, rock and even some grunge elements sitting well with the over 18 audience.  The band were having fun and had some catchy songs with titles such as Warehouse Dropbear and even throwing in the live debut of an untitled track.
Birds of Tokyo strolled onto the stage 30 minutes later with smiles on their faces to a deafening noise from the crowd and launched straight into White Witch, an excellent opening track. It was apparent from the very start that this was going to be a fantastic show with lead singer Ian Kenny announcing that the band was here to play a “mixed bag of ours and your favourites”. It turned out to be just that, with earlier songs focused on in the 1st half of the set such as Wild Eyed Boy, Ode to Death and Stay (a classic EP song). Not until the 5th song (Saddest Thing I Know) did the latest album get a look in, but from there another seven recent tracks were featured including the live debut of Waiting for the Wolves.
The sound mix was perfect, where the vocals of Kenny and guitar prowess of Adam Spark (who was celebrating his birthday) shone through. It has become apparent just how good of a live band Birds have become and how many great songs they have in their back catalogue when they can play one hour and fifteen minutes of hit songs in one setlist and still have you wanting more. The only down point of the night was the stage lighting, with drummer Adam Weston and keyboardist Glenn Sarangapany barely noticeable near the back of the stage and sections with the audience in full light and the band in total darkness. However the musicianship of the band could not be faulted as they returned to the stage after numerous chants from the crowd to play an encore of The Gap, hit single Plans and fan favourite Silhoettic.
Overall, it was a great return to the club stage after playing many festival dates for the group. It’s easy to see why they have become one of the country’s most popular bands and it seems they can only continue to go from strength to strength from here on in.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Gig Review: The Wombats 03/05/11

(Yeah I know it's about The Wombats again, but I'll review some different albums in the next few weeks)

After putting out their 2nd album less than two weeks previously, I was really excited about The Wombats coming out to Brisbane because I was loving the new stuff and couldn't wait to hear it live. After playing at The Zoo last tour, this time the Bats had stepped up to the larger Tivoli and being an all ages show, a large proportion of the crowd was underage. After rocking up at 6:30 when doors opened, I was surprised to see about 400 people lined-up outside already. Clearly these youngsters were keen.

By the time Sydney indie band Tortoiseshell takes the stage, the venue is pretty much packed to be brim. The band play through half an hour of their 80's indie style material, but the crowd loses interest quickly as the band aren't showing any emotion and seem to have the same moves throughout, swaying in time and attempting to get the crowd involved by clapping at the start of each song. However the last two songs sees them bring out their material, including 'This Girl', that has been getting airplay on Triple J and they step it up with the vocals elevating to a new level which results in the crowd starting to get involved and they lap it up. These guys have a promising future if they can constantly produce high-caliber songs such as these last few.

The Wombats take the stage half an hour later as the excitement reaches a deafening level from the excited crow. Launching straight into 'This Modern Glitch' opener 'Our Perfect Disease' followed by hit 'Kill the Director' The Bats instantly have the crowd singing along to every word and lapping up the indie pop tunes with the sound mix being absolutely perfect. It isn't until 4 songs in that singer Matthew Murphy aknowledges the crowd by thanking them for getting the new album to number two on the charts and saying how he thought it would be "like Chinese Democarcy times by ten". The friendly and comical banter continues throughout the show with the band commenting on the horrible weather, wondering if they'll get eaten by sharks when they go surfing the next day and marveling at the largness oftheir beach-sized towels they were given.

It's obvious the band are enjoying themselves, as is the crowd. The drumming from Dan Haggis is top-notch an bassiest Tord Overland-Knudsen throws himself around stage with much energy. But the real star of the show is Murphy who show his prowess by switching from keyboard synthesizer to guitar midway through many songs. His vocals tonight are also top quality belting out all the familar choruses with gusto but still maintaining much emotion and feeling. An equal amount of old and new material is played and even a B-side called 'Sally Bray' off the new album for the hardcore fans. Towards the end of the set The Bats really shine, playing through familiar tunes such as 'Backfire at the Disco', 'Moving to New York' and closing the set with hit single 'Tokyo (Vampires and Wolves)'.

But the crowd know this isn't over yet and chant loudly for an encore, and the band return less than 2 minutes later with the only ballad for the night 'Anti-D'. With a single watery eye on the background video screens, this song becomes a real highlight of the night with the crowd swaying their hands back and forth with lighters or mobile phones in their hands. Then band close with mega-hit 'Let's Dance to Joy Division' and the mosh bounces as one before they say their goodbyes after 1hour and 15minutes of enjoyable tunes.

It's obvious that this band were born to play live shows, as they pull off a mesmorizing performance that you can't help but jump around and scream you lungs out to. So good was the show, that this reviewer might just have bought a ticket to the second show tonight.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Album Review: The Wombats Proudly Present... This Modern Glitch

The Wombats have returned, after four years absence from our airwaves, with their 2nd album titled This Modern Glitch. It is another offering of pop-laden and catchy songs, similar to debut  release A Guide to Loss, Love and Desperation. But this time, the boys have added in numerous synths in most tracks, as well as a more serious tone with the lyrics. The latter is mainly due to singer Matthew Murphy's struggle with drug and wieght issues in the past couple of years because of the heavy touring schedule of the first album taking a massive toll. The question is, have The Wombats fallen to the curse of the second album, or does this release continue their quick rise to the top of the indie stratosphere.

Opener, Our Perfect Disease, starts out with none of the usual dancy and fun-loving elements of previous offerings. Instead Murphy sings over the top of a solitary synth before the songs builds up to an uplifting chorus with the lyrics of 'It was the perfect disease we had, who do I see about contracting it back?'. The usual backing 'Woos' are provided by bassest Tord Ă˜verland-Knudsen and drummer Dan Haggis. Next up are the hit singles Tokyo (Vampires and Wolves) and Jump Into the Fog which have gained significant radio airplay over the last few months. These tracks see a return to the fun-loving and beat heavy tracks that the Bats are renowed for.

Anti-D is the probably the most interesting track on the album, with a string section introduced over the top of a slow moving ballad. This however, makes it no less catchy with the resounding chorus of 'Please allow me to be your anti-depressant' building up to an epic sound throughout the song fueling by Muphy's heart-felt lyrics and the beautiful string arrangements underneath.

From here on the album is filled with much of the same, with new single Techno Fan and 1996 leaving off from where Tokyo started with much of the same synth sounds along with the customary 'Woos'. However, there are some sub-standard filler tracks such as Walking Disasters and Girls/Fast Cars giving the listener some pretty forgettable moments, with the synth trend starting to get monotonous after a while. But closer Schumacher the Champagne returns toe traditional Wombats sounds we are used to with the traditional guitar/bass/drums combo driving the song.

Overall, although This Modern Glitch features a slightly different direction for the band with the introduction of some interesting new sounds, it still retains many of the catchy and poppy elements from the band's first long-player that fans have fallen in love with. As Murphy somes up on the closing track, "Take  me as I am or not at all!", The Wombats have taken a slight risk on this album. But the maturity they have brought to it has seen them produce an impressive effort that will see old and new fans alike, definately taking to them with all they can.


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