Live Review: Holy Holy + Kwame + Medhanit – Liberty Hall, Sydney (27.05.23)

Holy Holy

On the coldest May night in living memory for Sydneysiders, venturing out to a gig wasn’t on the top of my priorities list as I sat in front of the fire wondering if I should have a beer while my girlfriend got ready for night shift on a hospital ward. Fortunately, I decided drinking at home by myself was a bit sad and followed through with my plans to see Holy Holy at Liberty Hall. Playing the last show on their Messed Up tour, Holy Holy delivered an absolutely flawless and fun set, ably supported by plenty of friends and guests.

Opening the night was Medhanit, the Tasmanian indie-pop-soul artist with plenty of promise and potential. While I wasn’t familiar with their sounds or songs prior the night, Medhanit was smooth and controlled in a 30 minute set that set the scene for her return as guest vocalist throughout the main Holy Holy set.

Main support for the night was Western Sydney legend Kwame. Playing the vast majority of his set cloaked in a gold gown and balaclava, he built the mood throughout his set by engaging the crowd with a bit of call and response, before announcing his long awaited debut album was coming very soon to plenty of applause. Closing on “Wow”, his set was tight and really got the venue moving before the night really kicked into gear.

As prevalent and prolific they’ve been for the past decade, Holy Holy has been a band for one reason or another, I’ve never seen live. And based on their 75 minute set, I’m kicking myself I hadn’t seen them sooner.

Opening with “Stand Where I’m Standing”, my favourite track from their 2021 album Hello My Beautiful World, you just knew the band was on a heat seeking mission to warm the night and deliver a cracker set. Noting they had a great feeling about the Sydney crowd after the opening couple of songs, the triple threat of “Believe Anything”, “How You Been” and “Frida” really kicked the evening off as the band came into their own, with clean guitar licks, commanding drums and the most crisp vocals from front man Tim Carroll you’ll likely hear for a while.

As the set headed towards its middle stages, you felt the night really kick into gear, with Oscar Dawson announcing “That Message” had reached gold status (“I really don’t know how, I didn’t think many people liked it”), while they played their Post Malone cover “Sunflower” for only the second time ever. The crowd was heaving, the vibes were high, and from this moment onwards it was just hit after hit (if this hadn’t already been occurring).

The set highlight came in the form of “Maybe You Know” (what a classic track – Mariah Carey vibes and all), followed by a seamless transition into “Faces”. Welcoming Queen P out for her spot on “Port Rd”, the band moved into a new and as yet unreleased track “You Are What You Pretend to Be”. It had the hallmarks of all classic Holy Holy songs, with a sincerity and earnestness that really drove home the song’s messaging.

Closing the main set out with the hattrick of “Aftergone” (with Medhanit returning on guest vocals), current single “Messed Up” featuring Kwame (sans gold coat and balaclava) and the absolute epitome of Holy Holy songs “True Lovers” (featuring a dance sesh from the band’s support crew and team). Thanking their team and the crowd once more for the tour and night, they left the stage and crowd on a high. Returning to play “St Petersburg” and the under appreciated hit “Teach Me About Dying”, the night was finished just as quickly as it started with everyone in attendance seemingly stoked with the outcome ( I ran into one fan afterwards who verbatim said ‘I’ve seen them 5 times now; I’ll fucking rage all night after that one’. One can only assume it was good rage).

On the end of a long national tour that has spanned 6 weeks and 11 shows, you could forgive the band if they were a little tired and ready to head home to their warm beds and families and not deliver a top show. Fortunately, the band did the complete opposite and delivered one of the best sets I’ve seen and heard in a very long time. Hopefully I don’t wait another 10 years and four albums to see them again.

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Header image from 2021 by Bruce Baker