Live Review: Tora’s masterful songwriting on full display in Melbourne


It is an undeniable truth that electronic, chillwave band Tora have had a flourishing career. Emerging from Byron Bay, the boys erupted with their album Take a Rest in 2017, catapulting them into immediate international success and touring abroad. Releasing their most recent album Can’t Buy The Mood in October last year, the four-piece have spent 2020 kicking off their world tour with shows across Australia. Thursday night’s venue was the renown Corner Hotel in Richmond, giving their Melbournian fans an inspiring excuse for a mid-week party. Joined first onstage by artists Keelan Mak and Huntly, the evening boasted a dynamic palette of silky electronic music, head-bopping and two-stepping.

Opening the evening was Brisbane-born, Keelan Mak. Taking centre stage accompanied only by an electric drum pad and microphone, Mak warmed the crowd with his smooth beats, pristine vocals and layered production sound. A one-man-band Tora with a vibrato to die for, his intricate performance was consistently engaging. As the audience trickled onto the dance floor, swivelling hips proved appreciation of Keelan Mak’s songs including “Daffodils” and “Sleep Talker”.

Between tunes, Mak announced the “full circle moment” of his carer. He informed his manager that Tora was on the list of artists he wanted to work with. A few months later, he found himself in the studio with the foursome themselves, to record Mak’s song “Wouldn’t Be The Same”. An immaculate performance – he has wholeheartedly established himself as an artist to watch in the near future.

Next on stage were Melbourne trio, Huntly, whose infectious energy and charismatic performance was an engrossing extravaganza. Their unique sound was emphasised during “Vitamin” through their use of vocal sound effects and pitch alteration. With one female and one male vocalist, the contrast between voices was an absolute delight for the ears. The two drove each other on to form a connected and energetic performance. It was innovative, theatrical and engaging to witness. By the time they closed with “Reckoning”, the room was brimming with fans whirring for the headliner to appear.

As Tora emerged with their first number “Eat The Sun”, the audience could not be contained and the party atmosphere had prematurely launched. The familiar velvety vocals of the boys drew fans in from the outset and the room roared as they eased into “Deviate”. It cannot go unmentioned that the blend of Jo Loewenthal and Jai Piccone’s voices is one of the band’s most iconic attributes. Hearing that silvery fusion live was far more satisfying than through a tinny pair of earphones. Aural liquid honey.

The seamless flow of the set formed a dreamlike haze, highlighted further by the ongoing purple and blue lighting. Notably, the boys intricate songwriting and emotive lyrics is a basis of their popularity amongst many people. It’s the incorporation of emotional vulnerability into dance music that creates such a buzz for their sound. Songs like “Paramount” and title track “Can’t Buy The Mood” transmitted psychological desire and wanting. It’s sad music that doesn’t bring you down but uplifts you and makes you want to move. The best kind of music. The reason for music.

There’s nothing like a girl sitting on someone’s shoulders to make you feel like you’re at a festival, right? Blowing her kisses from the stage and making everyone else in the room convulse with jealousy, the boys got more people dancing during “Tiger” than any other song thus far. Throughout the evening, they portrayed a sound comparable to a lovechild of British artist’s James Blake and Foals. It’s the infant the Earth didn’t know we needed, but count our blessings that it was born.

Arguably saving the best until last, the crowd swelled as they closed with their most commercially successful songs, “Another Case”, “Too Much” and “Morphine”. Tora’s repertoire is a supreme powerhouse and evidence of their aptitude for songwriting. The evening brew joy and zest from beginning to end. Safe to say that more than one attendee went to work on Friday morning with a sore head and a full heart.

During the gig, the band announced that they are moving to Amsterdam this Saturday, but that their Australian fans have definitely given them a “pretty fucking good reason to come back”. Well, you know. We’re all patriotic for our favourite home-grown bands. Amsterdam, you can have them for now but we definitely want them back at some point.


The author attended the performance on Thursday 20th February 2020

Visit their official website HERE.

Unfortunately Tora have no upcoming Australian shows. BUT… if you’re in Europe you can catch them on their tours on the following dates:

3 APR 2020 – Utrecht, Netherlands – Ekko

18 APR 2020 – Brussels, Belgium – Botanique

21 APR 2020 – Bourges, France – Le Printemps de Bourges 2020

30 APR 2020 – Dublin, Ireland – The Sound House

2 May 2020 – London, UK – Lafayette

3 May 2020 – Paris, France – LA BOULE NOIRE

7 May 2020 – Barcelona, Spain – LAUT

8 May 2020 – Madrid, Spain – La Boite

5 Aug 2020 – Cornwall, UK – Boardmasters Festival 2020

Ruby Robinson

London-born pom living the Melbournian dream. Gig, rum & travel enthusiast.