LIVE REVIEW: Matt Purcell & The Blessed Curse/Knievel/ Sam Shinazzi @ Annandale Hotel, Sydney (24/02/10)

written by Chris Familton

Sam Shinazzi performed as a duo with guitarist Barry Adamson, even though their drummer was in attendance but opted out as he was playing with Matt Purcell later. The minimal framework for the songs served to highlight Shinazzi’s forlorn and love-lost lyrics while at the same time leaving the songs feel somewhat exposed and fragile. A closing cover of Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark transformed it from a rousing anthem to a tender tale. Their set was often interrupted by a mischievous guitar but the quality of the songs (many from a forthcoming new album) kept things afloat making it a most satisfying start the evening.

Knievel recently came out of hibernation and have been writing and recording new material – always a good sign for a band reappearing on the scene. Since their time in the 90s music has wandered off down multi-genre paths but ‘indie’ as an umbrella form has gone from strength to strength. That must be why Knievel sound so effortlessly contemporary without a whiff of nostalgia. They sprinkled a couple of the new tracks amongst their back catalogue and they sounded fantastic. The guitar lines still sparkled and chimed while Tracey Ellis’ bass playing held everything together like glue, allowing Wayne Connolly’s vocals to drift in and out with ease. The mix was great, allowing all the elements of their architectural sound to come through and their good spirits showed that the low turnout was of no concern.

Matt Purcell has been celebrating the release of his self-titled album (mixed by Connolly) and taking those songs to the stage breathed even more energy and life into them. Apparently their second guitarist departed abruptly so Purcell was left with the task of replicating as much of the playing as two hands allowed. He did an admirable job bringing a real sense of urgency and hard work to the set. The songs like Hollywood, Who Do You Love and Rock Kids were big bold indie rock efforts, overflowing with Big Star-like melodies that, coming from a three-piece, filled the room with ease. Purcell’s sound is glorious power pop with a nice guitar edginess that deserves wider attention.

this review first appeared in Drum Media

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