LIVE REVIEW: Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders, Alex Cameron @ OAF, Sydney (16/05/15)

Alex Cameron | photo by Chris Familton
Alex Cameron | photo by Chris Familton

Alex Cameron’s (Seekae) saxophonist and off-sider Roy Molloy arrived first, setting up his instrument, pacing the stage with Corona in hand and chatting to the front rows. Cameron’s strikingly skeletal frame joined him, his designer suit a couple of sizes too small, hanging from his lanky bones. He has a commanding stage presence, throwing Nick Cave-styled poses and dance moves that alternate between mid-period Bowie and Elvis in Las Vegas mode. Musically the pair played and sang over backing tracks of minimal synth and electro that brought to mind Kraftwerk and Suicide laced with Scritti Politti, enhanced by Molloy’s sax solos. There’s a fair amount of schtick going on but Cameron plays the role convincingly as both a songwriter and performer and it’ll be interesting to see how he evolves his solo career.

Jack Ladder’s career has also undertaken a number of transformations with last year’s Playmates album finding him settling into his most comfortable stylistic zone. It’s hard to go wrong with a band like the Dreamlanders. They seem like a composite scene from a David Lynch cabaret scene: Kirin J Callinan’s borderline psychotic stage personae, all twitches, lunges and futuristic guitar flourishes, Donny Benét’s exceptional bass playing that saw him play a consummate solo intro at the start of the encore, keyboardist Frank Sutherland and drummer extraordinaire Laurence Pike (PVT). Out front Ladder commanded the stage during the songs but seemed, as usual, strangely distant, aloof and subtly cynical between them. Playmates provided the bulk of the material with the dark and sleazy Depeche Mode glitter stomp of Reputation Amputation and Neon Blue working particularly well. The Hurtsville album also got a look-in with the graceful airiness of the title track resplendent in its melancholic grandeur. It was an evening of absorbing and emotive post-modern art rock.

Chris Familton

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