The Toff in Town
Dispelling Election Day blues within seconds of kicking off their set, Playwrite bounce their drama-laden brand of percussion-driven funk rock off the walls of the largely empty room. While claiming influences of Animal Collective and TV on the Radio, the epic grandeur of Elbow and the bongo/floor tom fury of Local Natives are more accurate likenesses, which, in these hands, is no bad thing. Clearly a massive asset to any festival lineup, Playwrite deal in music to feel and dance to rather than just hear. It’s strange to see the smallish room gradually fill and the audience respond with trademark warm politeness (the kind that keeps this country on its knees); when singer Jordan White pushes his impressively powerful voice, these songs deserve an arena of fans, arms around each other and fists aloft.
To fractured projections of The Wizard of Oz, Tully on Tully take to the stage to wind up their national tour in aid of their new and stonkeringly good EP Weightless. Dancers push their way to the front of the now packed room, as the band launch into opener Hunt You Down.
With two years of consistent gigging behind them and a solid, unchanged lineup, tonight’s gig feels like it’s a new high for the band. Always a note-perfect formidable pop machine, ToT tonight seems ready to take it to the next level. Singer Natalie Foster, always a mesmerising presence live, moves with a feline quality as she inhabits her words and entrances the audience. More a band than ever before, radio hit Naked and their sterling So Close to Over really highlight the role of the four-piece backing the ever-moving Foster, not just the musicianship but also the personalities of the band shine through in these songs now.
It’s as if two years of gigging has finally made the band comfortable to play the parts and be themselves.
While highlights Quiet Company and EP-opener Going on Like This noisy-up the crowd, it’s the Hayden Calnin-featuring Triple J hit Stay (absent tonight but ably covered by guitarist Greg Rietwyk and keyboardist Pete Corrigan) that sees the entire room burst into singing so emphatic that it nearly drowns out the band. Watching the Tully on Tully share disbelieving smiles as the crowd lift their voices is the high point of a blazing set and a powerful reminder of what music can do, and that no matter what happens elsewhere in the country, there are still few places in the world you’d rather be.