written by Chris Familton
The Verlaines formed around 30 years ago in New Zealand and wrote some classic songs like Death & The Maiden, Doomsday and C.D., Jimmy Jazz & Me. Graeme Downes went on to be a a professor of music at Otago University – still writing and recording albums both solo (the brilliant Hammers & Anvils) and more recently Pot Boiler and Corporate Moronic.
Playing a rare (if not their first?) Sydney show the band was clearly a group of young ‘uns that Graeme had brought into the Verlaines fold. The guitarist in particular was damn impressive, throwing off Television licks and accents like they were shrugs of the shoulders. Downes meanwhile was the clear centre of attention, dipping into the early 80s back catalogue for songs like the now seminal Death & The Maiden as well as highlighting the strength he possesses in his songwriting with the more recent works. There is clearly some clever crafting of chords and melodies that go on in a Verlaines song with flashes of The Jam, Television and even at times the wittier aspects of Talking Heads. Downes seemed to have a great time – a tad bothered by the Sydney heat yet impressed by the Sunday night turnout.
In support Songs are still blooding their new guitarist and drummer so things were often tentative and searching but the interplay and chemistry is definitely there for them to be as potent a jangly pop krautrock experience as they proved they can be.