It was a balmy night at Chevron Gardens, packed to the brim with Perth Festival goers enjoying the surprisingly sensational selection of drinks while chilling in an awesome atmosphere with good vibes and fairy lights. Not a bad way to ease into a night of live music. Spacey Jane provided a pleasant appetizer before an utterly magnificent main course of Nothing But Thieves. The sold out performance space boasted a stage framed with the skyscrapers of the city, creating an impressive aesthetic for the eyes to complement the delectable feast for the ears.
Perth-grown garage pop band Spacey Jane kicked things off, almost shy in their performance initially. Perhaps understandably so, as they drew a pretty massive crowd right from the beginning. They let their instruments do the talking though, strumming out wistful, nostalgic melodies reminiscent of Oasis as the punters kept pouring in. Swaying about peacefully, the crowd responded well to this four-piece led by front man Caleb Harper, cheerfully going along for the ride as the band smoothly steered into a crescendo, speeding up a little bit with every song. Almost like a gentle awakening, gradually evolving into a healthy dose of faster, grungier tunes acting like a caffeine hit preparing you for what’s next.
I remember the first time I heard Nothing But Thieves on Triple J in 2015 clearly. I felt so moved by that impossible vocal range, I pulled the car over to listen to the rest of the song, laid back in my seat with eyes closed. This is not usually how I discover new music. I felt apprehensive about whether that unbelievable vocal range could be as pristine, clean and perfectly on-key live… but from the opening notes of first track I Was Just a Kid right through to final encore track Amsterdam (bookending a 17 song setlist), talented vocalist Conor Mason hit every single note with surreal perfection, accompanied by a band of tidy musicians in a well-polished performance. I left feeling just as moved as the first time I laid ears on this band and their stirring music.
A rapturous crowd went mental the moment they caught a glimpse of the lads. The atmosphere in the space was electric with the excitement of the congregation, people of all ages singing along from the very first song at Mason’s behest, seemingly mesmerised.
The setlist was masterfully crafted, with groovier tracks like Ban All the Music and Wake Up Call following I Was Just a Kid, building in intensity with Take This Lonely Heart before nestling the slower, more emotional tracks like Soda in between funkier, faster songs like Live Like Animals. It was a compilation maximising the impact of the slower songs, while keeping the crowd’s energy on high.
There was plenty of banter between Mason and the crowd, the former informing Chevron Gardens that he “fucking loves an Aussie crowd,” and it was pretty obvious that the feeling was mutual. At some point a punter must have thrown a cheese board on stage. Yep. Hearing a vocalist politely thank someone for a cheese board during a guitar solo was strange! (“we love our cheese, thank you guys”). I’ve seen a lot of things thrown on stages at gigs in my time, but this is the first cheese board! Probably better than shoes, to be fair.
Perth was lucky to have scored this intoxicating band’s first show back after a bit of a break. Their energy was high, the entire show effortlessly on point, delivered with genuine passion and feeling that couldn’t be resisted. Their technical performance was flawless, each member of the band complementing the rest in a sweet performance space with top sound quality. Brilliant.
Photos by Paul Dowd Photography