Canadian rock trio THE TEA PARTY has always treated Aussie audiences like family. After last Friday night’s show at Melbourne’s ‘170 Russell’ it was easy to see why.
The Australian “Black River Tour” brought the band into some of this country’s most intimate live music venues, giving both band and audience the chance to get up close and personal with each other. Given that it was a cold, miserable, rainy night in Melbourne town, it wasn’t hard for either ‘party’ to get snuggled in close for a night of “MorroconRoll”.
Newly relocated Melbournites FLYNN EFFECT set the kindling alight early. The band’s mesmerising combination of ambient soundscapes and prog-influenced melodies was a perfect aperitif to help warm the dreariest of winter nights.
Fronted with the angelic vocals of Tomina Vincent (think a young Anneke Van Giersbergen) FLYNN EFFECT has the potential to become one of Australia’s favourite alt-prog-rock outfits. The band’s set was visually as impressive as the music. An atmospheric stage presence was perfectly accentuated by brilliant blue and white stage lighting (Zoe Spratling), Tomina’s glowing mic stand, Jesse Higginson’s transparent Flying-V and solid rhythmic work from Matthew Besterwitch (bass) and Taylor Douglas (drums). No doubt, the band certainly would have gained some new fans, from an audience that they would probably not typically reach. Watch this space… FLYNN EFFECT is going places!
By the time the lights had dimmed for THE TEA PARTY to enter ‘stage right’ the crowd had well and truly swelled to a ‘sold out’ capacity of almost 1000 punters. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that this was the largest crowd I have witnessed at this venue in AGES!
Ripping right into things with ‘The River’, the band played its way through a list of songs that would be regularly featured on the playlist of anyone worthy enough to call themselves a fan. Interspersed with engaging banter from Jeff Martin (guitar/vocals) the classics kept coming, with ‘Psychopomp’, ‘Release’ and ‘Heaving Coming Down’ clearly crowd favourites. The latter providing a seamless segue into the band’s version of the U2 classic ‘With Or Without You’.
As a three-piece unit, ‘The Jeffs’ (Martin and Burrows -drums) and Stuart Chatwood (bass/keys) are as tight and synchronised as any band I’ve seen live. JM seemed particularly energised and appeared to be having an absolute blast, continuously grinning like a Cheshire cat to those both on and off stage. SC’s multi-instrumentations always astound me and JB’s drumming was, as always, solid as a rock.
New tunes ‘Black River’ and ‘Way Way Down’ were introduced to the Melbourne audience for the first time and are both destined to become TTP classics in their own right. Based on these, one can only hope for a new album or EP in the, not too distant, future.
The set was rounded out with one of my absolute favourites ‘Temptation’, which had the packed crowd going bonkers, leaving no doubt that an encore was definitely going to be required.
The very apt ‘Winter Solstice’ and ‘Sister Awake’ made for the perfect nightcap.
2020 marks the band’s 30th year as THE TEA PARTY and; according to a promise from Jeff Martin, the band will grace our shores once again, as part of their anniversary tour, to celebrate large with their Aussie family!
The Halcyon Days
Heaven Coming Down/ With Or Without You
Save Me / Last Goodbye
Way Way Down