Holy Holy are a band in transformation, and a sold out show at The Rosemount Hotel proved WA fans are willing to follow wherever the new direction will take them.
Sold out shows are also great in that it can give the supports a robust audience to play to. So it was pleasing to see Perth songwriter Bri Clark with a healthy crowd as she took to the stage, even if they did keep the obligatory five metres from the front barricade.
It was a stripped back performance featuring just Clarke on keyboard, and included What If I Break Your Heart, a song written with Birds Of Tokyo’s Adam Spark. Clark’s performance, melancholic and thoughtful, roused interest in what her upcoming EP will bring.
Holy Holy’s guitarist Oscar Dawson gave supporting band Clews an enviable title when he declared them his “favourite band”. Fronted by sisters Lily and Grace Richardson on guitars, they bounced around and shot cheeky side glances at each other through songs Crushed and Teeth. Like a cross between like Veruca Salt and the Murmurs, at times they were pitchy but were fun nonetheless with their 90s indie grunge vibes.
Holy Holy arrived to play an hour-long set starting with guitarist Dawson’s guitar odyssey, You Cannot Call For Love Like A Dog from 2015’s When The Storms Would Come. Featuring Dawson’s signature blazing guitar solo it was a notice to the crowd that they were doing away with introductions and getting right into it.
Following with the dark That Message from 2017’s Paint it had vocalist Timothy Carroll fruitlessly pleading “Let it go, let it go, let it go”, giving colour and shade to the bittersweet song. Willow Tree was next and featured a sprightly drum part by Ryan Strathie. Feeding off the crowd, the band looked liked they were having a ripper of a time. Carroll riffed with his other bandmates and the audience, and Dawson made use of the space he had interacting with the crowd, and later on a song break checked that those in the dark crevices of the room were also having fun.
It was Holy Holy at their most exuberant, and even better for fans they offered tasty morsels of their new material. First off was We Think and notably the guitars were pulled back in favour of tracked synths leaning into a pressing tempo. Then later in the set for Teach Me About Dying they did what Holy Holy do so well; darkly wondrous lyrics set against a hopeful melody. Both were happily received by the audience piquing with their most recent single Faces. A dance song to add to their arsenal, it featured the ladies from Clews for the vocal hook and was an infectious outing causing Carroll to let a spirited “Woo!” rip off at the end of the song.
The new material suggests that the band are now looking out rather than in and the songs embraced elements of 80s new wave. One wonders then if this forthcoming album will be Holy Holy’s version of a pop album? Frankly that’s a tantalising prospect.
Holy Holy shows have been rooted in the mystique of a 70s rock but that’s now been ratcheted up with upbeat newer material. They’ve also adopted a light and smoke show that threatened to consume them within the fiery haze, which for Strathie and bassist Graham Ritchie it often did.
They still delivered a beautiful rendition of Sentimental and Monday and returned to rocking out the crowd with True Lovers and their Like A Version rendition of Beyoncé’s Hold Up, which sat snug in the songlist giving another insight into how the band’s sound has evolved.
Yet it felt like as soon as it started it all came to a close, which happens when you are enjoying it this much. How could you not though when offered Darwinism and Elevator? By the end though it had the many doing their own Carroll impersonations joyously singing back to the band, “You were a heartbreaker, I could’ve told you that”.
Photos by Owen Gregory