AU ABROAD

Bombazine Black - The Toff in Town (23.09.10)

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Occasionally album titles really hit the mark. Motion Picture, the second release for Bombazine Black, embodies its title so effectively, audience members at the album launch last Thursday night could taste salty butter and corn in their mouths. 

There are movies and there are motion pictures and the Melbourne based instrumental band led by Matt Davis of Gersey fame, proved that they are Scorsese. Scorsese who knows how to stir your emotions, how to hold back, and when, at the right time, to relocate your heart to your sleeve with no qualms. 

With its old-school presence of Chaplin and Vaudeville, The Toff in Town was the perfect venue. And Bombazine Black’s intriguing and warm onstage energy matched the space. Davis led the group with humility and charm, and at times the band used the stage and interacted as though they were huddled around a Boston street fire-drum in the 1930s; playing as much to each other as they did for their audience. 

Not for a second was the absence of vocals felt. Just like the days of the silent movie—before Woody Allen started chewing everyone’s ears off—it was refreshing re connecting with the basics. And Bombazine Black connected. The solid line up of Daryl Bradie on guitar, Dan Tulen on drums, Jayne Tuttle on keys, Miles Browne on bass, and Matt Davis on guitar, was joined by vibraphone virtuoso Laura MacFarlane from Ninety-Nine, and trumpeter-about-town Eugene Ball. The combination was magical, transporting the audience to places far beyond The Toff and the cinema it seemed they were in.

Like a good screenplay, the playlist built well and projected the right degree of light and shade. Act one, if you will, eased everyone in with the emotive yet cruisy Annelets and The New Ruse, while the darker Montmartre set the scene for the more epic Dark Kellys and climactic Springheel Sunset, which almost turned Motion Picture into moonlight cinema, generating such tension it seemed the roof might lift off. All done, paradoxically, with an element of restraint.

At one point, Davis treated the crowd to some narrative, introducing Dark Kellys by asking everyone to visualise being on the run from the Kelly Gang. The song’s inspiration arose from Davis’ reflections on Australia’s lack of fiction based on early white settlement. The crowd embraced it—as well as Davis’ momentary AC/DC breakout—and the atmosphere intensified.

Bombazine Black succeeded in fusing cinema and live music, the gig at times comparable to an iconic tribute montage at The Oscars. The only irony which challenged Bombazine Black’s album title was that they captivated their crowd so tremendously, their feature length playlist whizzed by like a short film. 

With such a moving and sincere album on their hands, this is anything but The End for Bombazine Black.