Harmony at Howler Bar, 25/04/2014
After four blistering shows along the east coast, Harmony took a two week break before arriving back in Melbourne to celebrate the launch of their widely acclaimed LP Carpetbombing; an album that has already inevitably earned a place in many end of year best-of lists. Reflecting the diverse and complex nature of the album, the band invited a similarly stellar local line up of supports that were just as mouth watering as the main attraction.
Kicking off the night’s celebrations in full band mode was Laura Imbruglia, warming the crowd up with some of the more laidback cuts from last year’s terrific What A Treat LP. Her soft country croon reminiscent of a Nashville Skyline era Bob Dylan, paired with her knack for writing truly great songs got the night off to a flyer. ‘Limerance’ was an early stand out, the refrain “I’ll do what you want me to do” sounding more poignant and heartbreaking each time it was repeated. Imbruglia chose to finish with her classic set closer, ‘Looking For A Rabbit’ off her 2006 self-titled album. Laura’s shrieked punk vocals over angular guitars, and the following wig out and rave up resulted in what would be one of the highlights of the night.
Despite not having any formal releases to their name (scouring the internet only provides one or two live versions), it is a testament to Tyrannamen’s live performances that they have been local power pop pin-ups over the last few years. Last having seen them tear up the stage for Bits of Shit’s LP launch at the Grace Darling last year, it was refreshing to see Danny Vanderpol (Bits of Shits’ Pallbearer) donned in his legendary blue denim, unleashing his famous sharpie dance moves on his lonesome in front of the stage amongst the typically “well behaved” crowd Melbourne is unfortunately notorious for. Nailing ridiculously catchy hooks with an underlying garage punk essence, along with a dance move that can only be described as the “shovel”, Tyrannamen tore up the stage, albeit all too briefly.
Another group of underground local legends, Deaf Wish, don’t tend to play around that often – this is probably a good thing. Not because of any lack of quality, but because of the visual and aural assault that an audience experiences during one of their sets. Known for their legendary club shows, the group launched into a set of post-punk noise that rarely let up for the crowd to catch a breath. It was heartening to see the band back on stage after a brief absence obviously having so much fun.
It was time for the surprise guest to take the stage, and on came Adalita to treat the audience to a set of songs from last year’s acclaimed All Day Venus and her self-titled album that has just been re-released for Record Store Day. Armed merely with her smoky voice and howling lone guitar, Adalita continued to prove why she is one of our most beloved performers.
Impossible No Goods’ drummer, and general man about town BJ Morrizonkle kept the crowd entertained whilst Harmony’s gear was being set up. A ramshackle genius, BJ is a one-man band. One moment playing Looney-Tunes inspired delirium on his keyboard and bass drum before digressing into perhaps one of the most tender and beautiful country songs you have ever heard.
As darkness descended inside the band room, the harsh poetic voice of Don Walker rang out, reciting the lyrics from Carpetbombing’s opening track. Slowly and dramatically, the band took their positions onstage, and seamlessly led into the devastating ‘Water Runs Cold’. Many words can be used to describe the raw, primal and devastating intensity of a Harmony performance, but none could truly do it justice. Tom Lyngcoln’s torn vocals melded beautifully with the crystal clear gospel/doo wop inspired vocals of the all-girl trio (whose inclusion when forming the band was a stroke of genius), creating some of the most moving music one could be lucky enough to hear; most noticeably in ‘Big Ivan’ and the now locally classic ‘Cacophonous Vibes’. Whilst powerful on the album, every song seemed to take on a new level of importance in the live setting; the band injecting higher levels of vigour into songs already overflowing with trademark energy. Pausing to sincerely thank the audience and announce their final song, the night’s saving grace came in the brief announcement that the show was being recorded – which allowed for some comfort in knowing that whether you were there or not, we all may be able to again hear the beauty that was witnessed that night.