Live Review: Gideon Bensen + ADKOB + Service Bells – Newtown Social Club, Sydney (13.02.16)

Sydney may be locked out, but we continue to create some of the best music in the country, as proven by the three bands who took to the stage at the Newtown Social Club on Saturday night. The night celebrated the release of Cold Cold Heart, the debut EP from Gideon Bensen, a local artist who is best known as part of The Preatures, who was supported by rising stars ADKOB and desert rock outfit Service Bells.

Service Bells were up first, seeing the band return to the stage after quite a bit of time abroad in 2015, while they worked hard on new material – a new EP which will see the light of day this year – much of which was on display tonight. Donning a Dolly Parton t-shirt, frontman Fraser Harvey led the quartet into a tight show – which tended to be more focused on “getting it right”, than delivering the greatest show of all time. They can figure that part out later. These songs are fresh – something which the band didn’t pretend to ignore, admitting some of the songs they were playing were still without a name.

What held the songs together though were the impressive musicianship of the stage, oozing the vibes and the sounds of the Desert Rock movement made infamous by rounds like Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss. They recognise that the bass is as important as the guitar – letting it lead when it needs to – and that the drums are what hold it all together. Though they border on the psych rock movement, there is no showboating here – each song is meticulously crafted with often self-defacing lyrics (“In the end I’ll lose, I always do”) and guitar hooks that you can’t help but sink into. All we’re missing is some peyote. Their most recent single (which you can hear HERE on triple j Unearthed), “What Was That Look For?”, closed the night, and is a stellar example of things to come. Can’t wait to hear the full EP.

A.D.K.O.B. (An acronym for A Different Kind Of Busy) followed, a group who are proving themselves to be one of the bands to watch in the Sydney scene. The sounds are a bit too varied at this point to say they have a particular sound just yet, but every song has massive potential; it’s a joy to witness them discover their direction. Singles “Crumble”, with its Moby “Extreme Ways”-esque sample, “Ghosts” and set closer “Glue” all shine. Though their track which lead singer Mark Piccles described as being about Blood Oranges, was a highlight of the night, with Piccles adding to the beat (a drummer himself) rather than sitting on the guitar.

And finally, it was time for Gideon Bensen to take the stage, as the room filled and fans of the artist eagerly anticipated hearing the brand new tracks live. Having played in Melbourne the night before, this was only his second time performing these tracks live – debuting not just the music but also his new band, a four piece comprised of a mish mash of Sydney legends, to his hometown crowd.

Only eight tracks were played in the set, delivering us the EP and some extra new tunes as some VCR-esque projections (as seen in the “All New Low” music video) filled the wall behind him ad added to the show. The music itself has a lot going on; their production is impressive, even more so considering this is the group’s second ever show together. “Lead Me On” came early, with its self described “Euro Trash” inspiration giving it a bit of a Depeche Mode vibe. “Talk Talk” was superb, as Gideon jumped between his two vocal mics, delivering his latest single with impressive precision.

Things slowed down for the beautiful “Tired Eyes”, and “Shame” brought bandmate Luke Liang onto the saxophone, which he remained on for the next track as well, which saw Preatures bandmate Jack Moffitt join in on guitar. The track, his first single “All New Low” had some serious Prince-meets-Gary Numan vibes, while Jack’s live guitar gave it some variation from the original recording. Meanwhile, his EP’s titual track “Cold Cold Heart” closed the brief but wonderful set.

Though Bensen has made already name for himself in his larger project, his solo work shows true potential. It weaves its way through the sounds of the mid-to-late 80s, while becoming something suitably unique and very much his own. If you haven’t had the chance to listen to his EP yet, you can check it out below. And though chances are his solo live appearances will be a rarity, if you do get the chance to catch him live, it’s not something you should pass up. Can’t wait to hear what comes next.

Cold Cold Heart is out now. 

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Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.

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