Live Review: Graveyard Train + Bearded Gypsy Band – The Governor Hindmarsh, Adelaide (10.05.12)

I first saw Graveyard Train on Spicks and Specks, performing cover songs in their own unique style. I was enthralled then by their swampy, gritty country sound. With their double bass, harmonica, carnivalesque banjo, steal guitar, a coffin-shaped washboard and a hammer and chain, they are one of the most exciting bands to come out of Melbourne in recent times. You have to admire a band who chooses to keep time with a hammer and chain, rather than the typical tambourine.

After an international tour, the band return to Adelaide only a few short months after visiting as part of the Adelaide Festival to launch their brand new album Hollow, which was released on May 12th. The show had drawn a good size and eager crowd, with The Gov already abustle with boozy punters when I arrive, just in time to catch the second support act, Adelaide’s Bearded Gypsy Band. The four-piece are clean shaven, fresh-faced and fresh out of school, yet when they start to play it is instantly clear that they are seasoned musicians with talent beyond their years.

Their sound is a dynamic mix of genres: folk, country, and some jaunty shanties which had the crowd merrily singing along. A great big gasp of fresh air, with their spirited violin, rocking beat and joyous jazzy overtones, Bearded Gypsy Band are a lively bunch and the perfect warm-up support act for a cold Adelaide night.

Graveyard Train are welcomed to the stage by hearty applause. The band have gained a wide and strong following with their songs of murder, mayhem, ghosts and ghouls, and it is instantly clear that Adelaide came out tonight to have a good time. The band seem to feed off this energy from the get-go, busting into an amazing set.

Their rambling, manly baritone harmonies, rocking percussion, and foot-stomping craziness had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hand. These gentleman are amazing to watch. Bearded Nick Finch is an excellent guitarist who delivers stern, rumbling vocals. Singer and steal-guitarist Beau Skowron channels his inner werewolf on the stage, licking his lips as he eyes the microphone like it was easy prey, howling into it his rumbling vocals. They are a band with no real front man, all sharing vocal duties and deliver what is essentially a fantastic live jam, a performance that is designed for a pub on a cold night.

Graveyard Train are men out of their time, leading the vanguard for the throw-back revival which seems to be going on in the south. There is a resurgence in recent times of an anachronistic country, bluesy sound, with the likes of C.W Stoneking and Black Pony Express also coming out of old Melbourne town. Graveyard Train do not take themselves too serious, which is part of their charm. Paving the way for the unique genre of Horror Country, their strong lyrics are dark and funny, yet their musical style is refined, as are their skills as musicians.

They perform the catchy Mummy, which showcases Josh Crawley’s mastery of the banjo. Other fan favourites include the sexy and fun Even Witches Like to Go Out Dancing and Bit by a Dog, which had the crowd howling along like a hungry wolf pack at the moon. They round off the night with the stupendous All Will Be Gone, an enthralling apocalyptic number.

Graveyard Train are playing a string of shows up and down the country. They are by far one of the best live acts out at the moment. If my powers of predictions are attuned, they are likely to continue to grow a strong and loyal fan-base, so it is definitely worth catching them now whilst they are still playing warm, intimate shows at great local venues like The Gov.

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