It’s not just nostalgia; the 90s were inarguably a golden era for Aussie rock bands. We would watch them on Recovery, see them at the Big Day Out, physically buy their CDs, and they actually featured in the ARIA charts. You Am I, Jebediah, Magic Dirt, and Powderfinger are just a few groups that spring to mind who released classic albums that decade. And, of course, The Superjesus. Their album Sumo, released in February 1998, peaked at number two! Now, 20 years on from its release, the band are touring the country to celebrate with fans, and stopped into Freo last Friday night.
We’ve all aged considerably since first listening to Sumo, so it’s no surprise the median age at this gig was higher than normal. However, so were the enthusiasm levels! It’s clear from the start that everyone here is a loyal fan – the somewhat hefty door charge is paid, band t-shirts purchased to be worn immediately, and vocal chords are warmed up for over two hours of singalongs. The only difference between this gig and one from 1998 is the selfie taking! So. Many. Selfies. It’s as if this crowd has just discovered they can take their own photo. Lucky for them, the band is willing to oblige, mid song no less, and hops into lots of pics.
Speaking of which, The Superjesus walk on stage looking every bit like rock stars to an elated cheer from the punters and go straight into fan favourite Down Again. Sarah McLeod’s voice takes a moment to settle in, but once they hit their stride the band is incredibly tight. Although the venue is only half full, they have all the showmanship of a group playing in a stadium, making them a band to watch as well as listen to. McLeod is the quintessential frontwoman, jumping off the drum riser, standing on her foldback speakers, squatting on the bass drum. I overhear comparisons to Suze DeMarchi of The Baby Animals, presumably because both women are musical icons, not to mention have incredibly powerful voices.
The first set of the night is filled with tracks from Sumo, such as Sink and Milk, as well as archival songs from early on in their career. Now and Then sends a surge of goose bumps over the audience, with McLeod turning her mic onto the crowd for a singalong. Crowd participation plus back and forth banter is the order of the night, and throughout their set the band is flinging guitar picks into the crowd. Someone even politely picks one up and returns it to McLeod! Bless.
After a 20 minute break, and an outfit change, set two opens with McLeod solo on piano. She tells the crowd the rest of the band isn’t that keen on this stripped back style, so after one song they join her on stage for the next hour long set, kicking off with Holy Water from their second album Jet Age. Also from Jet Age they play a really lovely arrangement of Enough To Know, and single Secret Agent Man. For the die-hard fans they play 1995 song Ground, a live version of which was included on the October 1998 reissue of Sumo. But the most surprising highlight is their cover of Kylie Minogue’s Confide In Me, which is on the 2018 reissue of Sumo. After a solid couple of hours, the opening few bars of Gravity are met with huge excitement. Inviting the crowd to sing in turns, it’s a great way to wind up a trip down memory lane. The final thing to do though? Take a selfie! This time it’s the band from stage, documenting what was undoubtedly an awesome gig.
Lead photo by Stuart Sevastos, article photos by Shannon Fox