Live Review: The Drones
The Drones fans ambled nonchalantly into the Metro with the rumble of conversation louder than usual; I strongly suspect the Anzac Day celebrations helped the jovial atmosphere along nicely.
First on the bill, Tasmanian bred, Melbourne based Witch Hats. The tidy four piece act rushed through the set, dodging drunken taunts from the crowd. ‘Turn the vocals up!’ someone yells from the crowd. ‘Nah turn them off!’ replies the Witch Hats front man, seemingly impartial to the punter’s request. It doesn’t take long for Witch Hats to hush the crowd with some precise and entertaining tracks that I dare say, impressed most of the hardened Drones fans.
Awed as we were, the best was yet to come. Dressed in a rhinestone shirt, Dan Luscombe of The Drones humbly introduced Aboriginal icon, Kev Carmody. A roar went out from the crowd for the 65 year old singer/song writer as Kev casually sat himself down on a stool at the front of the stage. Kev’s banter with the audience was humorous and laid back as he chatted and joked and about the origins of his tunes, while conveying his pride as an indigenous custodian.
Kev sang from his heart as if there was no one else in the room. His crisp steel strings rang out amongst the crowd, as most concentrated on catching every note delivered from a slide on his left hand. Finally Kev finished off with his well known song ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’, propelling the now jovial audience into a good old fashioned sing-along.
Already pleased with the evening, things got better still. One by one The Drones rushed the stage; wasting no time, they kicked off with ‘Nail It Down’ from their latest studio album ‘Havilah’. Gareth Liddiard (guitar/vocals) proved a formidable sight; guitar hanging low around his waist, he stood under the mic and barked to the ceiling through a mop of hair. From this moment The Drones swept us away on an ironic journey where violence meets beauty in uniquely Dronic territory.
Without stopping to bask in the ravenous applause, The Drones picked us up a notch playing ‘The Minotaur’ also from the same album. Gareth was in fine form, jerking and spitting as he wrestled every cord from his guitar, throwing himself one hundred percent into his performance. Dan Luscombe, (guitarist) who was energetic and animated, jolted and swooned around the stage, occasionally locking eyes with drummer and birthday boy, Michael Noga. Meanwhile, bassist Fiona Kitschin stood with her back to the crowd in a long black dress and bare feet and swayed trance-like, creating the warm fuzz needed to marry the buzzing riffs and white hot solos.
Between songs, Gareth sipped on whisky and at one point, exchanged pleasantries with a punter in the crowd. ‘That ain’t no real beer – whisky, that’s a real beer. I am an alcoholic. No wait, my manager is here, it’s just for my image,” he laughed.
Clearly a crowd favourite, Gareth dedicates ‘Shark Fin Blues’ to drummer Michael, though I am sure the crowd appreciated it more than Michael.
With a respectful nod to Kev, the Melbourne group covered ‘River of Tears’ followed quickly by an original ‘I Don’t Ever Want to Change’. Feed-back still ringing in my ears, Fiona and Dan left the stage, leaving Gareth to pick up his acoustic guitar. Flanked by Michael and his harmonica, Gareth treated us to a moving duet ‘Sixteen Straws’ bolstering the argument that The Drones are one of the most original and exciting live shows around.