THE BABE RAINBOW @ Freo.Social gets 5/10

The Babe Rainbow @ Freo.Social

Saturday, May 22, 2021


The long-overdue rains turned our port city into a mostly deserted ghost town on Saturday night, but the long line of young folks in tie-dyed flares and warm shackets on Parry Street indicated that Freo.Social was the place to be, as Byron baes The Babe Rainbow wrapped up their three-night stand in WA, fresh from releasing their fourth album a week prior.


Upon being ordered to scan and identify oneself with military-like precision – patrons were ushered in with a smile to be greeted by a wall of sound courtesy of locals Haircare. The openers have rightly declared themselves to be strongly influenced by a certain sound out of New York City circa the last turn of the century, and they also show signs of progressing beyond this as they previewed new material for their dedicated followers, hinting at a keyboard-driven ‘80s new romantic sound.

The Babe Rainbow

The Babe Rainbow must have been shocked by the tightness of their openers as loose was the order of the day from the get-go. The three instrumentalists of the Rainbow took the stage building anticipation of frontman Angus Dowling. But when Angus appeared and the cheer had subsided for his look – highlighted by his glittery halter top and big, black sunglasses look – he mumbled something about hailing from Byron and currently being in Fremantle, confirming that he knew where he was.

Unfortunately, it became pretty clear, pretty quickly that he may have made the most of the venue’s goods on tap. The chin scratchers at the back of the room began tugging uncomfortably on their turtle-neck collars as Dowling’s slow-mo dancing was interrupted with stumbles and some difficulty in scooping up percussion instruments from the stage floor.

The Babe Rainbow

The textbook blues-funk of Johnny Says Stay Cool followed next and it set the scene for the night. It seemed that every second song played quickly ventured away from the recordings and into extended jams, and one couldn’t help but wonder if this was a ploy to keep the set a little more instrumental than is the usual. Soon they ventured into new territory, showing off highlights from the newly released Changing Colours album. Single Zeitgeist got a showing, as did Your Imagination. While the latter reached mind levitation on record, with special guest Jaden Smith providing musings, in reality, it was another missed opportunity as the myriad vocal effects further exacerbated Dowling’s off night. While the song reminds one of Gene Wilder’s songs in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, there were no Oompa Loompas on site to sing a tale of morality following the band’s submission to temptation tonight.

The Babe Rainbow

The band got the crowd involved as the frontman jumped into the audience letting punters scream into the microphone, the highlight of which was when “Steph” called for everyone to attend a beach clean up this coming Saturday at Cottesloe, a means of making a difference and sending a message about the current ecological crisis. The oil and gas tycoons deserve a clean beach on their doorstep.

The band wrapped up their main set with their dreamy Morning Song. This rendition highlighted how the band fell short tonight. Where were the harmonies? And how hard is it to pack a hippy flute before you go on tour? Half the song was missing, and the band could have benefitted from doing as the lyrics suggest and sleeping in the afternoon. The one song encore saw the band revisit their early single Love Forever, finishing the night on something of a high.

Hopefully, tonight’s outing was not what The Babe Rainbow’s live show is usually all about. The image the band projects of being psychedelic flower children creating music to soothe the savage beast within was turned upside down when the band emerged as a savage beast themselves, and really did a disservice to their craft.


Photos by Adrian Thomson