REVIEW: THE MALADIES @ OAF, Sydney (05/11/09)

The Maladies | photo by Chris Familton

This was my second album release gig in the last 6 days, the previous one being The Scare show at The Annandale. Both were hugely celebratory affairs that highlighted both the pride the bands have in their efforts and the high level of support they have from fans, friends and family. Sydney crowds are often accused of passive reactions to live rock n roll  shows but these two events showed that the passion is out there and they aren’t afraid to show it.

The Maladies had a strong support line-up with The Holy Soul, The Disbelievers and Jamie Hutchings & His Imaginary Choir providing some lovely contrasting moments in the build up to the headliners.

The Holy Soul have a recently released album and up first to a sparse audience they were relaxed and playful with their swamp rock songs that swung and battered in equal amounts.

The Disbelievers were a much more stylised beast. Clad in sunglasses, Cult-era haircuts and and slacker pouts they dished up a sound akin to The Black Lips, albeit with a more psych and rockabilly edge. The singer has a voice that is the real deal and the guitarist played some demonically wired riffs and solos.

Jamie Hutchings is about to take His Imaginary Choir to Europe for some shows but first he completed his role as the Maladies album producer by warming up the crowd with a selection of songs from his 2009 album. His band has developed into a much more relaxed unit, the nervous exchanged looks and tentativeness has been replaced by confidence and as a result the songs have an added swing and drive, especially on Flamethrower and Treasure Trove.

The Maladies have earned their stripes on the Sydney and Australian touring circuit for a few years now and it has culminated in the release of their clumsily titled debut With You Right By My Side, Baby The Deal Just Can’t Go Down. Rapturous screams and applause greeted the be-suited band as they took the stage and pretty much played everything from the new record.

Augmented by a horn section and backing singers the OAF stage was a tad crowded with at times 10 people all contributing to the gospel infused blues rock that The Maladies do so well.  All are masters of their instruments with Daniel Babekuhl’s hands a blur of frenetic fretwork, Michael Sullings’ rock solid bass playing and Josh Harvey’s tight and taut drumming.

The star of the show though was singer/guitarist Daniele Marando who possesses a truly spine-tingling voice. He can shift from a sweet soul croon on the beautiful Silo to a fire and brimstone howl in a nano second and on songs like Take Me Down the effect is electrifying. Marando’s eyes rolled back and he testified with his whole body twitching and lurching as if he was purging demons in a voodoo ritual.

The gang backing vocals are a strong feature of The Maladies and they are chanted like a prison chain gang providing many opportunities for the crowd to howl along to lines like “Gonna work all day and I ain’t gonna tire” on This Wood & This Wire.

It was impressive to see a band with one album under their belt play a full set with no hint of filler. The songs were swept along by the fantastic playing and the exultant emotion in the songs courtesy of Marando’s exceptional voice. The Maladies showed they are yet another chapter in the history of a particular brand of Australian music that has spawned Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, The Saints, Beasts of Bourbon and The Scientists.

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