“This venue is daunting to play,” admitted Spacey Jane lead singer Caleb Harper early in their maiden set at Perth’s revered Red Hill Auditorium on Saturday night.
Given Western Australia’s hard border, Perth-based Spacey Jane have gigged in their hometown countless times before, but playing at Red Hill is something else altogether, as a wonderful, cascaded venue in the hills on the fringes of town overlooking the city.
Among the Red Hill alumni are Bon Iver, London Grammar, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Sufjan Stevens, Mac DeMarco, Bloc Party and Fat Boy Slim, representing some tough acts to follow. Given that plus the sheer magnitude of Red Hill’s overlooking amphitheatre, you can understand Harper’s admission, particularly with a close-to-capacity turnout on a Saturday night, fuelled by three support acts as the sun went down over the west coast.
Old Mervs along with Claudie Joy & the Joy Boys got the night off to a fun start as the punters rolled in and the sun set over the left side of the stage.
Funky Perth six-piece Supathick are a well-respected band locally and they showed off their talents, with the help of a few friends, playing their role perfectly as they warmed up the crowd with a mix of their bopping tunes along with a few well-known covers such as Sophie Ellis Bextor’s ‘Murder On The Dancefloor’ and Junior Senior’s ‘Move Your Feet’.
Up next was the main fact and it needs to be said it’s been a dizzying rise over the past 18 months for Spacey Jane with their runner-up spot, along with earning four tracks overall, in this year’s Triple J’s Hottest 100 signifying their establishment among the Aussie mainstream rock stratosphere.
Amid all that, the band have clearly gained considerable confidence in their live performances, but the grandeur of Red Hill, along with the never-ending anticipatory audience, offered a new challenge.
But it was one they rose to, arriving on stage to huge cheers opening with “Weightless”, with Harper looking very-Freddie Mercury with a tight white singlet, while Ashton Hardman-Le Cornu busted straight into his own unique gyrating guitar moves and bassist Peppa Lane, who joined the band in 2019, buzzed around with energy and adventure like someone much more comfortable in her role.
The front trio rocked out like a bunch of teenagers jamming out in their garage during “Sawteeth”, from 2018 EP In The Slight, before drummer Kieran Lama willed the crowd to sing Lane “happy birthday” for the day prior.
The hits kept coming including “Straightfaced” and “Feeding The Family”, where Hardman-Le Cornu unapologetically swirled the song’s hook with purpose.
New single “Lunchtime”, literally released two days before the show, surprised Harper with some loyal ‘Spacies’ singing along, before winning back the undevoted with their big hit “Booster Seat” timed to finish their regular set, whipping the crowd into a frenzy, demanding an encore.
The encore came, as it always does, with the band going wireless as Harper roamed through the amphitheatre and the mosh, re-appearing on stage with a cowboy hat before another full-energy jam session.
Lama, whose confidence on the mic and quick-witted banter has developed, devoted a track to Premier Mark McGowan, before they finished with “Good For You”, another perfectly-timed hit to get the crowd dancing and ready for the long trip home with smiles on their faces.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
For more on Spacey Jane, and upcoming tour dates, head to their official website.