Monday, November 16, 2009


Saturday, January 05, 2008 
The Evelyn

Sweltering in the heat outside, melting inside, it's a wonder that the bands find the reserve to play the gig at all. Still, with 30-odd in the room, the Brisbane-based Trevor Ludlow and his Hellraisers keep things more lukewarm than fiery inferno. Mid-paced, major-chord folky-rock numbers that slip in one ear and out the other are countered well by the ironic and self-depreciating banter between songs - giving the band some sorely-needed individuality; "This is our first gig in Melbourne, go easy on us". We go easy on them, they go easy on us. The bass playing of The Zebras' Edwina Ewins boosts many otherwise forgettable tunes, though the last song, Another Face in The Crowd does contain some wry observations that indicate Ludlow's capacity to put some of his easy charm into his songs to great effect.

Following this, the bar is raised courtesy of one of Melbourne's more unappreciated bands, Summer Cats. With a one month old EP Scratching Post that sees only two songs taken from it, their profile is gradually growing and tonight they show they have a lot of quality material tucked away. The first thing that hits you live (or on CD) is singer Scott Stevens' voice, piercingly clear and effortlessly rising above the surging jangly cacophony. During their opening 'seamless segue' (as they call it) of three tracks, the personalities of each member become apparent. Scott Brewer's bookish guitar, Hugh Owens' nimble basslines, Julia Nesbit's almost invisible drumming so well does it blend into the songs, and Irene Drossinos' punching and simple bell-clear Korg melodies. The band peak on a thrilling version of first single Hush Puppy, new song Mystified and EP track Discotheque. Though the heat is pinning people to their chairs, the band rail on and finish with a storming Let's Go which alone would make these guys a band to get shares in.

The reason most are here though is for the long-running Zebras who tonight barely seem to be trying at all, yet unfailingly deliver quality tune after memorable melody. Beginning with Science Competition the tone is set and doesn't alter for the rest of the gig, and nor should it. The three-guitar texturing, spearheaded by singer Jeremy Cole's heavenly Rickenbacker arpeggios, are, along with the restraint displayed by the the band (and lack of restraint from drummer Matt Budan), turned into priceless assets here, and work terrifically well to propel songs like I Have Decided, Miss World and the almost Strokes-like driving throb of You Look Ready - hiring a limo for the hooks rather than driving them home. Despite the songs becoming a little formulaic about three-quarters of the way through, tonight's gig is still a lesson in concise and effective songwriting that people will be discovering for years to come; when you've got this formula, who's complaining?

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