Live Review - The Jezabels, The Annandale, Sydney 2009The Jezabels
Annandale Hotel, Sydney
Friday 10 July
The Jezabels have been obediently trotting around Australia in their tour boots supporting Josh Pyke, but vocalist Hayley M’s reflections about the dark and dirty corners of Sydney belong in a venue like the Annandale Hotel. It’s not exactly the throbbing heart of the city’s Friday nightlife – more like the tip of one of its tentacles – but you get the sense that these punters know exactly what Hayley’s talking about when she riffs on chemical romances and cryptic crosses of guys and girls.
Hayley took to the stage in a loose-fitting Phantom of the Opera production T-shirt and pranced about like a talent quest panto act, but we forgive her that. The girl’s a natural at the mic, simple as that. Swooping and soaring above typical soprano range with grace and flair, or channelling Nick Cave in the devil-may-care melodies of ‘Noah’s Ark’. She can lift the roof on the word "urinals" (on ‘Old Little Girls’) and not sound ridiculous, and you can’t say fairer than that.
It’s not the comparison I would’ve expected to make, but the live setting brought out some of the inner Brandon Flowers in the song-writing: the marching band gait of the coda on ‘Be A Star’ and the punch-the-air choruses of ‘Disco Biscuit Love’ making more of an impact than on the Man Is Dead EP. It’s moments like that especially when you can see the sticky red carpet to success unfurling before the Jezabels.
Heather S (keys) and Sam L (guitar) served the tracks well (less so when forced to become surrogate bassists) but, as with the EP, it’s the volatile presence of Nik K on drums that really took the Jezabels into exciting territory. His ballistic rhythms are the antithesis to Hayley’s classic pop sensibilities, and while it may have occasionally sounded like a battle of wills on record, it worked a charm on stage. A big comfy doona on a bed of nails.
The Jezabels have been sharpening their claws on Sydney stages for a couple of years now, and Hayley herself still reckons that they’re primarily a live act. She’s probably right about that at the moment, but once the band works out how to wrestle the energy of their live show onto record – look out.
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