LIVE REVIEW: Sunnyboys @ Factory Theatre, Sydney (08/10/14)

photo by Catherine Croll
photo by Catherine Croll

Sunnyboys have been on a musical and emotional roller coaster over the last few years since they reformed for the Dig It Up Festival in 2012, the film on Jeremy Oxley and subsequent touring. Now they’ve scaled it back, eschewing extra musicians and venues like the Opera House for a show that focused firmly on the music.

Carrie Phillis & The Downtown Three warmed up the arriving audience with a strong set of soulful power-pop that was big on energy and sass without losing sight of catchy hooks. Phillis in particular was a ball of charisma, shimmying and shaking her way through the songs while delivering both sweet melodies and rock n roll screams with a smile and a snarl.

Sunnyboys have always had that juxtaposition between light and dark, sunshine and gloom and their performance during Mental Health Week highlighted that unique contrast. With the audience in full celebratory mood and the band seemingly equally relaxed the emotional shadows in Jeremy Oxley’s lyrics are clearer than ever. Sunnyboys’ music may be a bookmark of nostalgia for many in the room but it still sounds visceral, primal and intelligent. Richard Burgman’s rhythm and lead playing was energetic while the rhythm section was both solid and fluid. Jeremy Oxley’s guitar was high in the mix, its combination of nervy, wired tension with treble that sliced through through the room during his solos and chiming Byrdsian chords. The songs hardly need mentioning, all the required highlights were present from ‘Show Me Some Discipline’ to ‘The Seeker’, ‘Tunnel of Love’, ‘Happy Man’ and ‘Alone With You’.

Ultimately this show was about the songs and the audience and band’s connection to them. That communal feeling generated in a room full of passionate fans and a band now unshackled from expectation, relaxed and in control of their legacy. Sunnyboys were just a band brilliantly kicking out the jams and most likely that’s all they want to be.

Chris Familton

this review was first published in The Music (Oct ’14)

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