Smudge - Photo by Rachael Barrett
Smudge – Photo by Rachael Barrett

The City Views

Astor Lounge

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A rare bunch of live performances by Smudge has been prompted by the 20th anniversary of their debut album, Manilow. With it being well over a decade since they hit Perth, it was a room full of anticipation that met the trio when they got their time on the stage.

Before the headliner, the opening slot was filled by The City Views. A relatively new name on the scene, the members have certainly paid their dues in other outfits in the past. Two thirds of the band used to reside in local indie-poppers The Sensitive Drunks yet their newfound fuzzed out, high energy set found them to be nowhere near as drunk and possibly not quite as sensitive. There was the reworking of an old Bucket tune from frontman Dave Wallace’s past, and the familiar kiss off to Aiden Gordon that ensured a solid response. Wallace admitted to having purchased three copies of Manilow over the years such is the rate at which he wears his copy out. The City Views have clearly studied the Tom Morgan songbook with interest, making them a well made match to warm the punters.

Australia’s ultimate prototype for slacker rock Smudge ambled onto the stage and set out playing their Manilow album in its entirety. The punk-esque title track reminded that they are not all sweetness and light before their trademark pop tunes reared their head. Ingrown got people to the dance floor and was played with extra vigour before Impractical Joke proved why Morgan is considered such a cerebral and revered songwriter.

The rhythm section of Alison Galloway and Adam Yee haven’t aged a day even if Morgan is looking less and less the outdoor type with each passing year. Galloway in particular was at the top of her game with her combination of fast drum rolls and liberal cymbal use that highlighted how underrated she has been, and should be considered one of Australia’s most magnetic timekeepers.

Morgan battled an unruly guitar lead and declared that he would not give in to its temperamental antics by ‘riding the Indonesian lizard’ as ‘riding the lightning isn’t physically possible’. Technical difficulties couldn’t derail the trio, who were loosening up and having more of a ball with each passing tune. Mandee Barron who provided the backing vocals on the recording of Desmond was in the crowd and was called to the stage to repeat the dose.

The band continued with tongue in cheek with Morgan accentuating a two note guitar solo during Pulp and relishing the albums high point Divan. Charles In Charge had people requesting TV themes until Kelly brought the run through the album to an end.

The band saw no need to leave the stage for an encore, instead making the decision to play requests until closing. Another nine songs were played with fine spirit (delivered in oversized shot glasses) from the Laverne And Shirley theme and the delightfully titled Mike Love, Not War to Hot Potato and I Don’t Want To Be Grant McClennan (much to Yee’s chagrin) before ending on the short tune that lead to the forming of Smudge for what was wrongly envisaged to be a short lived pursuit Tea Toast & Turmoil.

Even on their part time schedule, Smudge in their own self-depreciating way outdo many more fancied rivals. It is only indie-roll and roll, but the punters clearly like it!