Felicity Groom
Felicity Groom. Pic: Rachael Barrett

Mei Saraswati/Dianas/Hamjam

Rosemount Hotel

Friday, December 5, 2014

It’s not uncommon for the artist launching a release to remain hidden and tucked away in the green room until showtime, living out a minor celeb fantasy. Taking the opposite route and ready to launch her new album, Hungry Sky, Felicity Groom was at the door to greet us upon arrival. The other punters who packed the Rosemount on Friday night could relay a similar story.  This was her party, we were the guests and she was the best damn host.

Following the chilled sampled marimba jams of Mei Saraswati, reverb drenched three-piece Dianas took to the stage with John Lekias helping out on drums until a permanent replacement is found. With a steady slew of EPs and singles over the past couple of years, Dianas have certainly gained a dedicated following as was evident from the healthy crowd up front for their set.  The heavily reverbed vocals may have contributed to some rather nasty vocal feedback that slightly derailed the band on a couple of occasions. The second half of their set was attacked with aplomb and they were more animated on stage than I have seen in the past.

Hamjam packed a lot of influences, styles and tempos into what seemed like a very short set. Simple, chunky garage riffs were betrayed by melodic pop vocals and a chorus-laden guitar tone that sounded like a cross between The Happy Mondays and a band off the Nuggets compilation. The addition of Hammond organ added a variety that many local bands taking on the psych/garage genre lack. By this time, the crowd had swelled and the party that Groom had promised on social media had well and truly begun.

Introduced by the floral and feathered Famous Sharron, Felicity Groom and her band walked on stage to a roaring cheer which hushed as the band started their set with a beat heavy number led by Groom’s partner in life and music, Andrew Ryan. One of Perth’s most original guitarists, Ryan attacked the drums with a similar, unconventional staccato finesse before handing the sticks to Mike Jelenik.

By the third song Oh Jesus, the teething problems that plagued the first two songs were quashed and the band, completed by Dave Parkin, kept the audience captivated and entertained as guest after guest took to the stage to lend a hand. Current single, Better Days, featured Abbe May and members of the Dianas on backing vocals was undoubtedly the set’s highlight. With brass and strings by Perth’s finest interjected throughout the set, it wasn’t just a new set of songs, a world away from debut, Gossamer, but an inviting, warm and unpretentious performance not unlike those given by other members of the Spinning Top family.

Now synth heavy, tribal in rhythm and almost arabesque in parts, Groom’s intestinal fortitude to try new things while maintaining her warmth and appeal will ensure the public will come along for the ride. And she’ll save you a seat.