The Tea Party – Photo by JF Foto

The Superjesus

Crown Theatre

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bursting onto the scene way back in the early ’90s with their unique fusion of hard rock, blues and eastern elements, The Tea Party released seven albums before breaking up in 2005 due to ‘creative differences.’ Jeff Martin embarked on a solo career, forming various different bands in the following years with varying success.

He now lives in Fremantle, and after reforming The Tea Party for a tour a couple years back, they promised they’d be back with new material. And much to the joy of fans, they’ve delivered. It appears any rifts between members have been healed and that special creative synergy between them has returned with the release of The Ocean At The End.

Aussie ’90s legends The Superjesus, who have also reformed after a 10 year hiatus, were an added bonus for the mostly older crowd. Singer Sarah McLeod in fact recently toured with Jeff Martin and has been recording material with him.

Kicking off explosively with Ashes, it was a nostalgic trip. The crowd were clearly enjoying seeing the band again, and the band were clearly enjoying playing. McLeod barely seems to have aged – an absolute dynamo, her voice was as strong as ever, as she rocked out on her Gibson SG, tearing through Shut My Eyes, Secret Agent Man and Gravity, before finishing on Down Again.

After the break the theatrical stage was set, and The Tea Party emerged looking majestic, bathed in red and purple light, with an illuminated backdrop of the surrealistic new album cover, immediately launching into its opening track The L.o.C.

“This is a rock concert – stand up!” Martin announced. An odd comment when you’ve booked a theatre, but most of the crowd jumped at the opportunity and stayed up for most of the gig.

It was a great setlist covering their extensive back catalogue. The opening percussion of The Bazaar was greeted with hollers of approval before the guitar riff kicked in. One of their finest tracks, Psychopomp, was delivered dramatically, with Martin’s formidable baritone soaring. Though the impact of the song was lessened by his guitar not being loud enough for the scorching solo, an issue that persisted through other songs.

They tore through Fire In The Head, Stuart Chatwood stepping up for the dual vocals of the chorus, while slinging his bass like a rifle, and Jeff Burrows, pounding his massive kit at the back in a flurry of arms and hair.

Lullaby saw Martin show off his Theremin skills and Waters On Fire sounded impressive live, the band relishing the new material. Pulling out his sitar, he played the intro to Save Me with a bow, before strapping on the Les Paul again and letting rip. Displaying Martin’s fondness for merging songs together, Save Me diverged into The Maker, and the brilliant title track off the new album, with its incredible guitar solo, gave way to a short synth and drums rendition of Pink Floyd’s On The Run, before Temptation closed the set proper.

Martin was soon back to show off some slide skills and give us a taste of Turn The Lamp Down Low which segued into the blues flavoured The Cass Corridor. The gorgeous, acoustic 12-string picking of Winter Solstice got the crowd clapping along, as Martin’s young son Django came onstage to join in the fun, before they wrapped it up with a suitably epic rendition of their classic Sister Awake.

While a few sound issues kept some songs from packing the punch we know they can, the show was a grand and intimate affair, and left the crowd enraptured and wanting more from their revived heroes.