Leaps and bounds. Apart from being a classic Paul Kelly track, it is exactly what Middle Kids have been coming along over the past two years. While certainly not an overnight success, the steam the now four-piece from Sydney has built up in 2018 is almost unparalleled. Releasing their debut album Lost Friends less than a month ago, Middle Kids went about delivering an accomplished and completely mesmerising Sunday evening set, in the picturesque and aurally fantastic Sydney Opera House.
Playing as part of the annual Vivid Live festival, the Hannah Joy fronted band kicked their set off at the completely rock star time of 745pm. Opening up with the piano led “Hole”, the simplicity of the track not only allowed the crowd to absorb the strength of Hannah’s vocals, but also her faultless skills on the piano. Welcoming the rest of the band on stage, they moved into slow-builder “Bought It”. As the first song of Lost Friends, it sets the mood for the album, and in a live setting more rightfully set the tone for the rest of the set.
Following it up with older track “Old River”, the band quickly moved into “Your Love”. Dedicating the track to the love she has for her recently acquired guitar, Hannah once again took control of the set, as Tim Fitz got pretty enthusiastic with his bass moves. Following it up with “On my Knees”, the almost punk chords of the song showcased the subtleties that Joy has built into her song writing.
Letting the crowd know that it was OK if they wanted to stand up out of their seat for the next one, they busted out the ground-breaking “Edge of Town”. Having only seen them two months earlier, I wasn’t surprised that they dropped “Edge of Town” mid set, and frankly, I’m glad they did. By doing so, it changed the atmosphere and aesthetics of the night, with the crowd moving from being passive to being increasingly active in their involvement. It was funny seeing the crowd slowly but surely stand up, one at time, to envelop themselves in the true success of the song. With a subtle sledge made by drummer Harry Day about the differences between the Sydney and Ballarat crowds, you just knew the set was truly hitting its straps.
Telling the crowd to learn to love their bits, the night took its foot off the accelerator as the fantastic “Don’t Be Hiding” was followed by “Maryland” and the piano led “Doing It Right”. Once more, the strength of Joy as a front woman was exemplified through her vocals and virtuoso level piano playing. As a non-musician, I was in total and utter awe of what she was doing and had been doing the whole night.
Bringing out a cellist to help out on “Tell Me Something” and “Mistake”, the crowd were once more a little reluctant to stand up for the latter, but by mid-track were fully indulging what is probably the best song of 2018.
Busting out the first ever Middle Kids song, in “Fire In Your Eyes”, was definitely a chance for Hannah to enjoy herself a little bit more on stage, as she was relieved of any instrumental duties. On a side note, her dance moves were next level good. And by good, I mean it was exactly how I move on the dance floor after a couple of beers; it was crowd pleasing and only slightly reminiscent of Elaine Benes from Seinfield.
As the night was drawing to a close, the crowd were greeted with the beautiful “Please” and closer “So Long Farewell I’m Gone”. You know those songs that you hear in a recorded fashion and just know it will be an absolute belter in a live setting? Yeah, this is exactly what “So Long Farewell I’m Gone” is. A near perfect album closer, it was a perfect main set closer.
Re-entering the stage to play the album titular “Lost Friends”, the Sydney crowd were given one last chance to hoedown, as “Neverstart” closed out the night. By far the most fun Middle Kids track, you just knew the band definitely loved every moment of playing not only this last track, but the entirety of the set. It was faultless, fun, and completely satisfying. Middle Kids are on an upwards trajectory, and if this set was anything to go, there will be plenty more leaps and bounds to come in the not-too-distant future.
The reviewer attended this show on May 27th.
Photo: Prudence Upton.