What does a well-respected touring band with a killer, critically acclaimed new album have to do to get a decent crowd turnout in Adelaide? I’m fucked if I know, because tonight’s display at The Gov for Melbourne’s Oh Mercy was as awkward slow-burner, to say the least. You know that if you rock up to the Hindmarsh venue and the tables are set out inside, the show hasn’t sold well as it just going to bode badly for the poor support bands set to open the night – goddamn it, if you give punters an opportunity to sit, then they will sit, leaving the bands performing directly to virtually nobody. Anyway. We shall soldier on…
First up to the plate is Bad//Dreems - a band you may remember me not so fondly describing as a bunch of ‘run-of-the-mill rock infused indie 20-somethings’ back when they supported Children Collide. I’m not going to lie, when I realised they were the local support act, I had a comical image pop into my head, like I was heading back to the scene of a duel – me vs. them once again. I’ll give the boys credit where credit is due tonight, they were playing to about 30 (scattered) people maximum, and they pulled off a set worthy of a packed out room. Clearly, having been on the road so much the last few months has proved to be beneficial for Bad//Dreems, as they definitely come across as a more cohesive band now. I get why they’re dominating on the live scene and are steadily becoming an A-grade touring band, though I still can’t fully call myself a fan. The melodies and riffs are great to listen to and as I mentioned before, they did great work in performing to a bare venue, but Bad//Dreems ultimately failed to win me over once more. Something tells me that the opinion of one reviewer isn’t going to deter this band from doing great things however, so all the best to them – someone had to have the unenviable task of opening the night tonight, I just hope their rider was awesome enough to counteract the vibe.
Millions, the national tour support act, are a band who I hadn’t seen since a drunken night last year when I’d finished my final ever uni exam. I remembered liking them, but not much else apart from that (though as the night continued, they remembered more than I), so having them also on tonight’s bill was a pleasant addition as well as an opportunity to see the band without the hindrance of beer-goggles. The Brisbane boys have clearly stepped up their game since that night at Jive; gone are the casual jeans/tee combos, instead, onstage are a handsome, stylishly matching band with a mature, defined sound to boot. It’s undeniable that Dom Haddad’s vocals are quite Alex Turner-without-the-Brylcreem-esque and with the gold, sparkly backdrop of the stage and the band’s gorgeous vintage rock sound, I began to feel like I was at one of those ridiculously themed American prom nights…in the good way. “Slow Burner”, “Guru” and new song “Nineteen” went down the best with the small crowd that’d now assembled and although the band was faced with a shithouse audio mix throughout their set, they ploughed through. I wish someone had filmed Millions’ cover of The Ronettes’ classic song “Be My Baby” as I think you could sense the hearts of girls in the room starting to beat that little bit faster as they crooned their way through the 1963 pop gem. If the rest of the night went to crap, it wouldn’t have mattered to me – these guys would have been worth it.
Onto our headliners for this evening – by the time Oh Mercy took to the stage, a larger crowd had shown up, thank Christ. I must admit, that I love the amount of decadence and pure cheek that features on the band’s recent album Deep Heat and was happy to see that both weren’t restrained within the confines of the studio recording. Decked out in a fabulous gold bomber jacket with ‘Deep Heat’ emblazoned on the back, Alexander Gow led his band (now with the addition of keyboardist Annabel Grigg) through an excellent set which showed the crowd that they are a band who are prepared to take risks and pull them off. Gow, if anything, is a theatrical front-man, working the crowd with some dance moves infused with the deep grooves the band performed, his trademark vocals taking things up that extra level. The playful and roguish aspects of Deep Heat were brought to life tonight, through the title track, “Drums” and “My Man”, whilst older favourites were thrown in for good measure, to the delight of older Oh Mercy fans.
It was hard not to get taken up with the show that Oh Mercy put on tonight; it was the first time I’d seen the band in far too long and it was so refreshing to see them again. The fact that The Gov on a Thursday night didn’t provide the best of crowds to kick a show off to was soon forgotten by the band (if it had been a huge issue at all) and this filtered through to the audience. I can only hope they weren’t too disheartened by the night and that they still find room on their next tour for Adelaide next time round…perhaps play Jive next.