LIVE REVIEW: The Fall, Gold Class, Orion @ Metro Theatre (21/10/15)

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photo credit: Chris Familton

Post-punk was the order of the night and Orion lived up to the label by diving deep into effect-laden guitar, melodic bass and stentorian vocals; the hallmarks of bands such as Joy Division and The Cure. Backed by the cold repetition of a drum machine they impressed in their ability to conjure no-frills melancholic music that hit an emotional sweet spot as readily as it invited the dance floor.

With a debut album only just released and critical acclaim already flowing their way, Gold Class hit the stage looking the part of a band already carefully considering their visual image. With guitarists in matching black t-shirts, and frontman Adam Curley in buttoned up polo shirt and dress pants they seemed self-assured and projecting a ‘look’ but it was their music that had the greatest impact. Tense and dramatic, they channelled early New Order, The Smiths and shades of shoegaze to thrilling effect and an enthusiastic audience response.

The first we heard from The Fall was an incoherent volley of words over the PA. Mark E. Smith was announcing himself and band to the stage in his distinct and inimitable way. The heart of the band is the taut and muscular rhythm section and guitarist Pete Greenway who keep the songs in tight check while Smith gurned and barked his cut and paste lyrics, wandering the stage messing with amp settings and knocking over mic stands like an annoying kid – except he’s 58. Wife Eleni Poulou seemed to be having fun, with her Korg keyboard and assortment of coats and bags. From the twisted disco of Dedication Not Medication to the primitive rock of Bury Pts 1 & 3 and an ironic Smith-less encore of I’ve Been Duped, The Fall showed nothing has changed in the maddening and delightfully eccentric world of Mark E. Smith.

Chris Familton

LIVE REVIEW: Twerps, The Garbage & The Flowers, Orion @ Newtown Social Club, Sydney (08/05/15)

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Orion had opening honours on the first of Twerps’ two sold out nights and things weren’t looking promising after half an hour of vague attempts at tuning a guitar before a note was played. Once they got things sorted they proved to be an intriguing take on 80s goth music circa Joy Division and The Cure, establishing desolate yet danceable dark grooves.

The Garbage & The Flowers formed in Wellington, NZ in the late 80s before relocating to Sydney in the late 90s but those unfamiliar with the band would have been excused for thinking they had formed a week before this gig, such was their primitive, ramshackle approach to their songs and covers of Flying Burrito Brothers, the Byrds and Van Morrison. The influence of fellow jangly lo-fi bands like The Clean and The Bats was apparent and though they had a loose charm it was hard to relax and be transported by the songs when distracted by the feeling that it could all collapse at any moment.

Twerps took the stage to a full room and with Marty Frawley’s self-diagnosis of the early stages of laryngitis they launched into a consummate hour long set. They too are a band with strong sonic links to the Kiwi underground via their jangly, pastoral feel and the vocal approach of Frawley and Jules McFarlane – who brought to mind Denise Roughan of The 3Ds. It was also her guitar playing that more often than not provided the melodic focal point with hyper-catchy and economical chiming riffs. This year’s Range Anxiety album provided the high-points with I Don’t Mind, Back To You and Shoulders before they departed to the melancholic strains of Who Are You which echoed on as punters continued to hum and sing it as they dispersed into the night.

Chris Familton

this review was first published in The Music