LIVE REVIEW: Belles Will Ring

belleshappy

Belles Will Ring + Le Pie + The Wednesday Night @ Factory Floor, March 17th, 2017

Three shades of psychedelia ruled a wet and windy Sydney night as Belles Will Ring triumphantly returned after a five year absence from the stage.

The Wednesday Night recently released their debut LP and through shifting lineup changes have been refining their live show, becoming more nuanced and hypnotic in their sound. Based around Rob Young and Laura Murdoch, the five-piece know how to dig in and work a garage pop groove as expertly as they can psych-out on girl-group vocals and tranced repetition.

Le Pie took the girl-group aesthetic further with her 50s bubblegum look, bathed in pink from her dress to her Stratocaster guitar. From tentative beginnings their set got better and better and when Le Pie sang without her guitar the songs seemed to gain more focus and a stronger connectivity with the audience. Think gauzy, atmospheric psych-lite pop where Mazzy Star meets Dum Dum Girls.

Belles Will Ring seem like a band built on strong personal and musical connections. From the first song they locked in, exchanged self-knowing and happy smiles, lifting the mood of the Factory Floor into the realm of celebration and inspired uninhibited dancing. Aidan Roberts and Liam Judson sit at the core of the band and over the years they’ve honed a symbiotic musical relationship both as singers and guitarists, whether syncing their Byrdsian harmonies or playing riffs that counter and complement each other, almost as if they’re egging each other on to dig deeper and further afield on their instruments. The band are way more muscular and freewheeling on-stage. The songs revel in what sound like tangents but are cleverly composed and arranged space-rock freak-outs as they urge the songs onwards and upwards. The unabashed enthusiasm and energy of the band has been missed on the Sydney scene and their return shows that pop music can be raw, intelligent and layered while still remaining direct and uplifting. Let’s hope the Belles keep ringing.

Chris Familton

LIVE REVIEW: Dig It Up!: The Hoodoo Gurus Invitational @ Enmore, Sydney (22/04/12)

by Chris Familton

Artist curated events like this have been extremely popular overseas in recent years, primarily due to the success of All Tomorrow’s Parties. Unfortunately here in Australia similar festivals have been few and far between with the most notable being the 2009 ATP shows in the hands of Nick Cave. The Hoodoo Gurus have sought to rectify the situation with Dig It Up! – a celebration in style marking their 30th anniversary with some of their favourite bands.

With the Enmore Theatre as the centrepiece bands also played the smaller stages at Notes Live and the Sly Fox with the more intimate Green Room Lounge hosting DJs and comedy. Kudos must go to the organisers under the all seeing eye of Tim Pittman as it was an exceptionally well planned event. Queues were minimal and using a city venue(s) with existing facilities meant that there were bars, eateries and toilets aplenty.

Hard-Ons

Kicking off proceedings were Hard-Ons, still shirtless and shredding guitar strings and drum sticks as they have done for the past 30 years. Surprisingly this was the first time they’d played the Enmore Theatre and even though the crowd was still rolling in at the start of the day they played like it was Saturday night at the Sando. Blackie was a blur of hair and fingers as he threw out his best rock moves while the rhythm section laid waste with their pummeling mix of metal, punk and hardcore that made for a nice palette cleanser to start the festival.

Straight Arrows

At Notes Live, Straight Arrows christened the PA with one of their tightest sets in recent memory. Touring has honed them into that kind of band that can sound effortlessly locked in with each other, creating that illusion of controlled chaos as Owen Penglis and Alex Grigg lurched and thrashed around the stage sharing vocals and garage rock riffs. From the tripped out bass groove of Haunted Out to the all out effervescent chant of Bad Temper, Straight Arrows proved to be one of the highlights of the day.

The Fleshtones have been around since the 70s and have obviously honed their craft with exceptional attention to detail. There were choreographed spins, guitar dips and regular crowd visits and while they sounded great and were somewhat endearing their shtick wore thin pretty quickly. There seemed to be little impromptu rock n roll action amid their glam power pop set but the crowd lapped it up as the band exited the venue through the crowd and the foyer.

The Lovetones

Local psych pop exponents The Lovetones and Belles Will Ring share some similarities in sound and band members yet they are traveling on different musical tangents. Matt Tow’s Lovetones took things into a more ethereal and dreamy headspace with his 12 string electric and some wonderfully ‘lose yourself’ song arrangements. Belles Will Ring on the other hand have mastered a unique take on dark psych pop complete with flute and trumpet. Their sound was enhanced by the great mix at Notes and they were one of the most rhythmic and pop heady acts of the day.

Undoubtedly the most anticipated (and worst kept ‘secret’) of the day was the reunion of The Sunnyboys (under the pseudonym Kids in Dust) in their first live show since the Mushroom 25 Concert in 1998. There was quite the communal feeling in the theatre as Jeremy Oxley and the original lineup of the band took to the stage and transported the crowd back to their youthful days sweating it out at venues like the Trade Union Club. There were tears, there were arms in the air and around mates shoulders as the band knocked out all the classics like the seminal Love to Rule, What You Need, Happy Man, Show Me Some Discipline and Alone With You. After a slightly nervous start any doubts about whether they would still sound good were alleviated. Oxley’s vocals were as strong as ever, the guitar lines sounded clean and sharp and the rhythm section still kept things concise and punchy.  The band seemed to having a blast with family watching from the wings and an audience giving them an overwhelming ovation as they left the stage.

The tougher end of the musical spectrum was strongly represented by Tek & Younger playing a muscular set of the highlights from their shared careers. New Race was fast and bruising and though it lacked the full band punch of Radio Birdman the sounded tough and menacing with Rob Younger showing just the right amount of disdain and snarl that has made him one of the greatest frontmen to come from these shores.

Redd Kross

Redd Kross last toured Australia in 1994 with Hoodoo Gurus so it was fitting that they return to play with the same hosts. Still looking like they hadn’t aged in 18 years the McDonald brothers and band played the tightest set of the day with songs like Switchblade Sister and Lady in the Front Row and Jimmy’s Fantasy from their classic Phaseshifter LP alongside songs from their forthcoming new album. Their drummer was highly entertaining with his stick tosses into the Enmore rafters and a catch and drop ratio that got better as the set progressed. Redd Kross mixed power pop with camp garage rock n roll perfectly and stood out as a strong crowd favourite from the response of the punters.

A quick dash back to Notes Live to catch the end of Royal Headache’s set and a characteristically frenetic one at that. Shogun was bounding and pacing like a caged animal while the band studiously built a frantic wall of guitars and drums around him. The soul element of Shogun’s voice is what makes their sound unique, highlighted by their closing version of Womack & Womack’s Teardrops which is quickly becoming a crowd favourite.

Another time slot, another seminal Australian act, this time it was Died Pretty fronted by the enigmatic Ron Peno who makes for compulsive viewing with his gyrations, mime-like gestures and crotch grabs. The man is a weird amalgam of Iggy Pop, Mick Jagger and Roger Daltrey yet his voice has its own singular identity. The band was made up of their definitive line-up with Brett Myers’ guitar a particular standout on tracks like the anthemic Sweetheart. Died Pretty continued the theme of the day that bands may split up and go their separate ways but it takes the individual identities of those bands to really make the original songs come back to life again.

The Sonics

One of those bands that surprised many by re-emerging from the past in recent years is The Sonics. Their peak was in the mid 60s but 45 years later they showed they can still deliver some searing rock n roll and garage rock with shared vocals from the Bon Scott-like bassist Freddie Dennis and keyboardist Gerry Roslie. Their set was padded out with a few classic covers like Louie Louie and Have Love, Will Travel but they really hit their stride with the closing trio of hits Strychnine, Psycho and The Witch. Not many acts can do that.

It was left to our venerable hosts the Hoodoo Gurus to close out the night with a full run-through of their first album Stoneage Romeos flanked by inflatable palm trees and with a blow-up Tyrannosaurus Rex looking over drummer Mark Kingsmill’s shoulder. Leilani, Dig It Up, My Girl and I Was A Kamikaze Pilot all sounded fantastic and even though they returned to the stage for a bunch of their other hits it was the Stoneage Romeo section of their set that was the most rewarding. Like Wow Wipeout and Bittersweet sounded like permanently ingrained alternative national anthems as the band left the stage grinning in the knowledge they’d been able to indulge in their own musical passions, play with some of their heroes and and give the crowd a thoroughly rewarding day of rock n roll both old and new. People were calling for them to do it again next year but special events like this are best left as one off moments enabling those that were in attendance to say “I was there…”.

this review was first published on FasterLouder

NEWS: Hoodoo Gurus curate their own 30th Anniversary parties…

Hoodoo Gurus have decided to celebrate their 30 years together in fine style with a run of shows across Australia featuring some impressive acts and a best of compilation titled Gold Watch: 20 Golden Greats. The Sydney show in particular will be a blast with Hoodoo Gurus performing Stoneage Romeos in its entirety (plus other smash hits) + The Sonics, Died Pretty, Redd Kross, the 5.6.7.8’s, Tek & Younger (ex-Radio Birdman), The Fleshtones, Hard-Ons, Belles Will Ring, Royal Headache, The Lovetones and The Straight Arrows.

Tour Details

Friday April 20th – The Tivoli Brisbane QLD

Featuring Hoodoo Gurus, performing Stoneage Romeos in its entirety (plus other smash hits), The Sonics (USA) & The 5.6.7.8’s (Japan).

52 Costin St Fortitude Valley

Tickets from http://www.ticketek.com.au, feelpresents. oztix.com.au, ph: 132 849 or in person at all Ticketek and Oztix outlets (including Rockinghorse Records)

Doors open 7.30pm

Sunday April 22nd – Enmore Theatre, Notes Live and The Green Room Sydney NSW

Featuring Hoodoo Gurus, performing Stoneage Romeos in its entirety (plus other smash hits) + The Sonics (USA), Died Pretty Redd Kross (USA), the 5.6.7.8’s (Japan), Tek & Younger (ex-Radio Birdman), The Fleshtones (USA), Hard-Ons, Belles Will Ring, Royal Headache, The Lovetones, The Straight Arrows; plus alternative comedy, spoken word, guest DJ’s with more acts to follow.

Three venues all within one minutes walk of each other on Enmore Rd, Enmore. Take advantage of all days pass outs, a street full of quality food and restricted capacity. All events held indoors. No fear of sunburn here!

Tickets from http://www.ticketek.com.au, feelpresents.oztix.com.au, ph: 9550 3666 or in person at the venue box office and all Ticketek outlets

Doors open 1.00pm

Tuesday April 24th – HQ Adelaide SA

Featuring Hoodoo Gurus, performing Stoneage Romeos in its entirety (plus other smash hits), and The Sonics (USA)

1 North Tce Adelaide

Tickets from http://www.venuetix.com.au, feelpresents.oztix.com.au, phone (08) 8225 8888 or in person at any VenueTix or Oztix outlet.

Doors open 8.00pm

Wednesday April 25th – The Palace Melbourne VIC

(Anzac Day) Featuring Hoodoo Gurus performing Stoneage Romeos in its entirety (plus other smash hits) + The Sonics (USA), Died Pretty, Redd Kross (USA), the 5.6.7.8’s (Japan), The Fleshtones (USA), Hard-Ons, The Lovetones and more acts to follow.

20- 30 Bourke St Melbourne

Twelve bands across two stages Take advantage of all days pass outs, a street full of quality food and restricted capacity. No fear of sunburn here!

Tickets from http://www.ticketek.com.au, feelpresents.oztix.com.au, ph: 132 849 or in person at all Ticketek and Oztix outlets (including Greville & Polyester Records)

Doors open 1.00pm

Saturday April 28th – The Astor  Theatre Perth WA

Featuring Hoodoo Gurus, performing Stoneage Romeos in its entirety (plus other smash hits), Redd Kross (USA) & The Fleshtones (USA)

659 Beaufort St Mt Lawley

Tickets from http://www.bocsticketing.com.au, feelpresents, oztix.com.au, phone (08) 9484 1133 or in person at all BOCS and Oztix outlets (including 78 Records)

Doors open 7.30pm

LIVE REVIEW: Belles Will Ring @ Gaelic, 26/11/10

written by Chris Familton

Magnetic Heads opened the evening with some wonderfully constructed songs. The influence of Talking Heads hovers over the group at times, not just in aspects of their sound but also in the tone of Des Miller’s voice when he hits the higher notes. When he stays low he has a kindred spirit in Jack Ladder and Bryan Ferry. They’ve developed a tasty sound that avoids the current indie trends and allows some nice space and a relaxed dynamic to their song structures.

Guineafowl on the other hand are a much more urgent and polished beast. They generated an impressively big sound on the Gaelic stage and delivered a fine batch of stirring indie anthems. British Sea Power came to mind with the surging aspect of their sound, as did Talking Heads (again) when they broke the music into more intricate batches, dialing up the quirk factor. Live Guineafowl are way more rocking and guitar-based than their recordings to date – if they can bridge that gap between the charm of home recordings and a live band they’ll carve out a nice space for themselves.

Belles Will Ring were celebrating the release of their new single Come North With Me Baby, Wow and they were unfortunately handicapped by a malfunctioning trumpet when it came time to play the song though they recovered well with vocal imitations replacing the horn. Elsewhere they wove some magical moments out of their wistful pop rock songs. The 60s bass grooves and the chiming twin guitars of Aiden Roberts and Liam Judson are the central musical figures in Belles Will Ring and they showed why they are getting deserved attention with their subtle blend of americana, pop and the lighter side of psych rock.

It was when they got a little darker on songs like Come To The Village they were at their most appealing though. The music was all that more hypnotic and mysterious and steered well clear of falling into predictable strum territory. Their melodies are starting to sound more unique with each new release and live you can really hear the development of the band. Now all they need to do is release that album that beckons so their audience can really get their heads inside the songs.

this review first appeared in Drum Media