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State Of The Art

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Perth Cultural Centre

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Saturday saw the Perth Cultural centre taken over by an amazing array of top local bands and eager punters, the latter keen to soak up a good 10 hours’ worth of the best noise WA has to offer, the former keen to play it.

The Ghost Hotel were reduced to duo form and given a slot at the most tricky stage – The Urban Orchid Walkway. With the sound of The Floors bleeding into the walkway and punters walking to and from trains, Aaron Gibson and Paul Wood battled admirably with their two acoustic guitars and voices that nestle tightly in harmony. With a new song to be aired and some old favourites being heard in a new format, The Ghost Hotel (duo) let the power of the song win the day among the least ideal of settings.

They may have moved to Melbourne but Split Seconds will always be 100 per cent Sandgropers in their hearts and took the opportunity to visit family and serenade the growing throng in the WA Museum Stage. It took very little time to show why they were the brightest star on the local landscape with tunes like Bed Down and Maiden Name being faultless. The band took on a different look as not only is Benjamin Golby now resembling Wil Oldham, but Matty Gio was filling in on the drum stool to give a more muscular approach to the tunes. Most recent single Halfway There was given an airing as was a nod to The Sleepy Jackson. Another memorable set from the fertile pop mind of Sean Pollard and pals.

Those who walked past the Wetlands stage near the Art Gallery enjoyed sets from Lucy Peach (commanding a solid crowd amidst the rock’n’roll sounds that surrounded) and the ever-charismatic Steve Parkin. Some may have been surprised to stumble across a rare outing by former Flanders frontman, Luke Bostleman. Despite some sound issues that appeared to coincide with helicopters entering the airspace, it was a delight to hear some of those Flanders tunes stripped back to their bare minimum and the strong tones of Bostleman showing off some new treats also. The High Learys brought their brilliant pop sensibilities and swing to the PICA Surrounds Stage, it was a perfect time for their vibrant tuneage but their original songs are so good they could lose some of the classics they so love to cover!

Polly Medlen wasn’t perturbed by the small PA system as the powerhouse vocalist made her way through an authentic set of country-tinged tunes. There is something polished about Medlen that makes you think her songs should be destined for bigger things. With a humble and personable way she engaged the crowd with songs such as Oh You Pretty Thing and Banged Up. Lee Jones made some tidy sounds from his telecaster that fleshed out some lovely up tempo tunes that deserved a bigger audience on the day.

The WA Musuem Stage played host to San Cisco, who were greeted as hometown heroes. The band looked well-pleased tro be back onstage in front of a big Perth crowd, and the now-bearded Jordi Davieson was in fine voice as both crowd and band bopped through bona fide hits such as Wild Things, Fred Astaire and, of course, Awkward.  San Cisco have this festival slot thing nailed, but it’s never just another day at the office.

Original Perth punk Kim Salmon was one of the big names who drew the masses to the Urban Orchard Stage. As he often is for his local shows, Salmon was joined by tight and true rhythm section Todd Pickett and Pete Stone, who are crack hands at subbing in for touring frontmen. Salmon is the master of light and shade in his sets and angular tunes like Desensitised are saddled side by side with the more gentile likes of Cool Fire. Often overlooked Surrealists’ tune, Rose Coloured Windscreen, was one of the day’s best in show. Of similarly darker climes, The Kill Devil Hills were perfect suited to that same stage, as darkness hit the edge of town, they menaced and seduced the crowd seemingly all at once.

Power pop quartet Tired Lion gave a typically energetic show at the PICA Surrounds Free Stage, with the early evening crowd lapping up Sophie Hopes’ growly-little-girl voice. You could argue that their form is just a kind of ‘90s throwback, but if that’s the case, it’s a throwback that works, judging from the crowd reaction.

It’s been a considerable journey for a band that started as a part-time project to do a few shows at the Seaview Tavern. Some 25 years later The Black Eyed Susans are still a going concern even if the line-up has changed over the years. Rob Snarski has a voice that continues to make knees tremble and tonight was no exception as he worked his way through some old favourites like Ocean Of You, Glory Glory and Every Gentle Soul. There were tips of the hat to old friends with Will Akers getting a mention and the prince of Perth music Dave McComb being remembered during Too Hot To Move, Too Hot To Think. The tempo was upped with Smoking Johnny Cash before Bruce Springsteen’s State Trooper ended proceedings.

As Eskimo Joe wooed a heavy crew of fans who no doubt have missed seeing them perform in more recent times, The Stems took home the whole shebang on the Urban Orchard Stage.

There was a time when The Stems were seen to be the epitome of the Perth music sound. The diverse range of bands at State Of The Art showed that this may no longer be the case, but that doesn’t diminish from why The Stems were (and still are) such a revered combination. The bluesy swamp of Move Me brought the crowd to the front of the stage from the get-go, and the familiar jangle of For Always had the punters in their pockets. Ash Naylor is the newest member to the band, who brings considerable guitar prowess to add to Mariani’s charismatic playing, though Richard Lane will always be missed.

A local treasure by any definition, the band ended with At First Sight, a song that would be worthy of being held up as this state’s anthem, particularly on a day like this.


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