Following on from some typically positive reviews from their Splendour in the Grass performance, Wild Beasts have taken it upon themselves to tour a few of our Australian cities, and tonight they take in the Princes Bandroom, St Kilda. Having confirmed their relevance as an important part of the progressive music landscape with the release of their album Present Tense, tonight is another testament to a group of London lads who deserve so much more recognition. Equally, talented support act, Fractures show that they have a lot to offer too.
For those not familiar with Melbourne Venues, The Prince Bandroom is a recent addition to music venue to the “alternative” music scene (so to speak) that over the last few months has seen more and more credible international acts play here including more recently like Sky Ferriera, Kelis & Phantogram. Tonight is no exception, for the brilliant talented Wild Beasts managed to scrape through a sold out show. Having not been to the Princes Ballroom before, I was keen to check out what the venue had to offer, and after being greeted by some refreshingly friendly chatty bouncers (It is a rarity these days) we climbed the stairs past portraits of bearded royalty to an openly spacious venue. I think we may well have a rival for the Corner Hotel on our hands! Great to see. So to the music….
Fractures were quick to the stage at 830pm start and having only learnt of these guys since one of our contributors listed their latest EP release as his top 5 album releases for 2014, I was curious to hear what they were about. Here we have a completely accomplished band that sound so damn tight and professional, they are pretty much ready to take their own stage for a night. Although not falling in the same genre type as Wild Beasts, they are a great band and definitely ones to watch in the next year. The short set list is powerful and emotive and remind me of melting pot of Bon Iver, Radiohead and James Blake. Final track, Twisted that I believe their latest single, shows just what this band are capable of both in song writing and maturity that with some fans in tow will make a needed impact on the Australian music scene.
I first had the pleasure of seeing Wild Beasts in 2007, at Summer Sundae Festival in Leicester, UK, where they played the third stage at some random slot. Having heard them on my beloved BBC Radio 6 (how I miss thee) and quite liking their name, I was quick to take front of stage to determine what they were all about. Despite a lack of stage presence it was one part vocalist Hayden Thorpe with such unique and theatrical falsetto that made many of us take notice.
7 years later and four albums later, the band returned with one of the best releases of the year (according to us and many other musical voices) Present Tense. Without losing the avant-garde style of their brand of pop synth, the band are more mature, confident and strong as ever, they take to the tight stage to a huge applause, yep, we are all happy to have them back in Australia. Tonight the set list is broad and extends across all their albums equally, but it is the track from the new albums that really sound the strongest, the band have really come of age and are in their prime in stage presence and musical delivery.
It is easy to tell that the band love being in Melbourne, not only do they say it, but after each track of rapturous applause they all smile and clasp hands with thanks to the audience, almost overwhelmed that we have made it out all this way to St. Kilda. Okay, it’s not far at all, but the band referenced that perhaps it was, quite sweet and endearing it was, and confirmed them as damn good lads.
Stand out tracks tonight were A Simple Beautiful Truth and Wanderlust that are played out with passion and heart, both taken from their latest album. The juggling vocal act between Thorpe and Fleming is special and the harmonious balance of their voices is both unique and powerful, with lyrics that explore the realms of beauty, sex and fighting.
What now has become an almost classic Wild Beasts track, The Devil’s Crayon never fails to get the crowd grooving with its U2 style guitar jangle that gets me every time. Live it is pitch perfect and sounds so effortless as the two battle out over the microphone, it’s gorgeous stuff. So as the band head into their final darkly mesmerising track A Dog’s Life with that unmistakable sparingly rolling drum rhythm and Tom Fleming’s soothing baritone voice it is the perfect ending to another emotive live journey.
The band return for a few more thanks to a crowd that just cant get enough and after hoping to hear the perfect closing track The End Come To Soon, they quickly ear whisper to one another and make a change of plan so we don’t get what I was hoping for but either way, the performance keeps each punter satisfied and reminds us that Wild Beasts have so much cleverly crafted music to offer and no doubt reminds us all how accomplished their fourth album is after hearing some of it live. See you again soon fellas.
Artist – Wild Beasts
Venue – Princes Bandroom