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live reviews

MEAT PUPPETS, LOVE HATE REBELLION, MAGENTA VOYEUR The Zoo 31 May It’s an eclectic bill tonight, each of the three bands delving into the rock but otherwise steadfastly on their own musical voyage. Openers Magenta Voyeur play the ‘70s psych card with admirable ambition, keyboards flanking both sides of stage and guitars aplenty as they bring the bombast with the epic Cosmic Voyage. At times proggy elements segue into classic rock breakdowns and vocals are scarce

their positions, all looking like they’ve lived life to the fullest, even young rhythm guitarist Elmo Kirkwood (son of founding bassist Cris and nephew of frontman Curt). They kick off their first Brisbane show in over 20 years with the strange circus jam of Touchdown King, and soon enough delve into the familiar Meat Puppets II lexicon with a restrained rendition of Plateau (one of the three songs from that album made famous when covered on Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged In New York). As the toe-tappin’ hoedown Comin’ Down leads into the whistle-laden Maiden’s Milk the long-standing country-bent of their punk rock becomes obvious – their sound unique but beguiling – and even as they move onto Oh Me it’s their complete lack of pretension


but effective, soaring single Strigiformes showing plenty of body and soul before they finish on a suitably climatic note with the nuanced Jungle Song. When locals Love Hate Rebellion begin pounding into their set it initially sounds virtually identical to the singer from Placebo wailing over Smashing Pumpkins’ Cherub Rock, but they soon find their own voice and deliver a well-drilled and precise set of passionate alt-rock. Frontman Jimmy Sky has clear stadium ambitions and projects with unabashed self-confidence, and while it’s a tad overwrought at times it’s never overly earnest, the trio completing their allotted time with the restrained Melancholia. There’s a solid crowd gathered by the time scruffy Arizona four-piece Meat Puppets take 26 • THE MUSIC • 4TH JUNE 2014

gorgeous familial harmonies, and then disappear into the night – a perfectly fun finale by a band still unwaveringly marching to the beat of their own drum. Luke Dunstan

THE WAIFS, HEATH CULLEN The Tivoli 31 May With more than two decades under their belt, The Waifs have long been Australian folk darlings. Even with a few years between album releases and tours, the trio can pack out The Tivoli. As the venue slowly fills, easing us into the evening is Heath Cullen, a blues and roots artist from rural New South Wales town, Candelo. You can hear the


which is ultimately so much more endearing than any lingering association with rock’n’roll royalty. The Kirkwood brothers rap the machine-gun vocals to Sam in complete unison over frantic fretwork, and the playful intro to Up On The Sun soon builds into a sinewy behemoth. Shirtless drummer Shandon Sahm does a top job holding things down during the jaunty punch of Lost, and a brilliant cover of The Beach Boys’ Sloop John B – delivered as homage and completely devoid of irony – segues into a monster rendition of Lake Of Fire, which displays serious muscle throughout before devolving into a massive finale of guitar mayhem to conclude the set. They’re coaxed back for a simply amazing cover of The Everly Brothers’ classic Cathy’s Clown, a beefed-up version which stretches and stretches atop

members, their ease and charm on stage, each bringing their own strength. Vikki Thorn’s vocal is higher and sweeter than sister Donna Simpson’s, but it can howl when needed, and her harmonica lines are lyrical. Simpson brings a dry humour to the stage (“I get a lot of, ‘Oh you’re in the Waifs? … I love your sister!’”) while the less chatty Josh Cunningham’s guitar chops are seriously impressive. The affection for the band is clear in the jostling crowd, and is reflected back by the band in their cheerful banter between songs. “You’re all so smiley tonight!” Thorn enthuses, twice. Busting up her ankle before a show in Sydney days earlier (a great anecdote involving morphine and a stolen wheelchair), Simpson performs in a chair, with The Waitress and Highway One getting the whole


space in his songs, the easygoing tales of travel and broken hearts clearly influenced by sprawling American alt-country. Accompanied by a drummer and an upright bassist, Cullen cycles through several guitar changes from electric to acoustic and back again. The quirky fingerpicked ode to living in a small town is a highlight, as is the rock’n’roll-infused final number. The Waifs have always been a down-to-earth type of band. Building a following over years of touring in a van, the independent group showcase a distinctly Australian voice, and not just with those strong accents. Their songs are personal, but also capture a beautiful directness and humour. The evolution of songwriting is evident too, Americana seeping in, along with the wisdom of age. Still present is the rapport between the

crowd singing along. More sing-alongs happen for Bridal Train, Lighthouse Man, When I Die and the unofficial anthem of ex-pats everywhere, London Still. Twelve years on from its release it still has that ineffable charm. Newer songs from Thorn and Cunningham, the latter presumably called Born To Love, are beautiful and show a maturity in the songwriting. The harmonies on Temptation are spine-tingling. The encore is a great example of the band’s appeal, the ukulele-strummed Feeling Sentimental sung with great gusto by Simpson, and favourite, Gillian, once more rousing the vocals of the crowd. The final lyrics of the night sung by Thorn sums up The Waifs experience: “We listen to each other, on a beautiful night.” Amorina Fitzgerald-Hood

The Music (Brisbane) Issue #41  
The Music (Brisbane) Issue #41  

The Music is a free, weekly gloss magazine of newsstand quality. It features a diverse range of content including arts, culture, fashion, li...