The Southern River Band’s debut album is a steam train through your chest. Live At The Pleasure Dome” a melting pot of all-American Country, Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll swagger snowballing through the front door of a Thornlie pub. The local act’s rise to power over the last 12 months has been monumental, and did it really surprise anyone? All the elements of a great Rock band are there; drawn out ballads with epic sing-along’s and evidently, rock solid musicianship. Sporting world class production courtesy of Perth’s RADA studios, the album is a testament to the brains, determination and spectacular live show of the band, quickly becoming WA’s favourite Rock ‘n’ Roll band. Announcing a launch show at Jack Rabbits Slim’s last month and recruiting the likes of Old Blood and Marmalade Mama to support, the event completely sold out from presale tickets alone. Shaping up to be one of the better local gigs of the year, it would have been rude not to attend.
As I enter the main room of Jack Rabbit Slim’s I am met with the warm, infectious Psych vibes of Marmalade Mama. The young trio have a talent for drawing you in. First you hear deep echoing chords and blooming ride cymbals, then the fuzz kicks in, painting landscapes across a room and you fall into the groove. Marmalade Mama proceed to charm the nightclub with set of crowd pleasing Psych Rock. Patrick Smith’s nicotine-charred vocals are surprisingly tuneful and sweet. Tom Cremasco’s fuzzy guitar noodling providing depth and texture. It was inspiring witnessing a band of their genre not actively attempting to rip your head off with frantic riffs, rather feeding the stoke of the party with quality Rock ‘n’ Roll. Marmalade Mama lit the room up with a sound you let your hair down to; expect to see plenty of them on WA’s stages next year.
Old Blood have enjoyed a triumphant year establishing themselves as WA’s premier Blues act. Selling out the Rosemount Hotel for a particularly rowdy launch of their debut album and commanding the state’s best stages ever since. Tonight, Old Blood ease into their set with a new number, a hypnotic ballad bordering on sleepy psychedelica, their sound forever tinged with the rural husk of the Blues. Years in the making, this band wields a calibre of musicianship on par with musicians that made their genre great. Vocalist Tony Adams possesses a rearing bellow comparable to a young Joe Cocker’s immersive whiskey slurs. Tyler Ray Ritchie displays outstanding drum technique throughout the evening; his opening groove in “Blue Jean Blues” is as mathematically accurate as it is human.
The whole band fuses to deliver a fierce rendition of “Medicine Man” as waves of vintage tremolo guitar washing over the room, crystal clean.
The dynamic force of Old Blood’s two guitarists Edo Ekic and Jules Peet is the crowning jewel in the group’s sound. Whether its Peet’s wailing slide playing or Ekic’s slick-fingered lyricism, the two trade blazing solos and fluid lines in a transcendent, conversational fashion. There’s an emotional investment these men put into their shows that takes some time to digest. The organic ingenuity of their sound and their sheer command of it reminds you of the critical value of live music, and the live show is the seed of this band. Experiencing it in the flesh is simply essential.
As the lights dim for the headline act, the excitement in the sold out venue is tangible. Emerging in a white jumpsuit complete with stars, flared trousers and tassel sleeves,was SRB front man Callum Kramer. A persona known for never being short of something to say, Kramer’s rabid and inspired inter-song banter has gained the act almost as much acclaim as their music. But looking across the five hundred odd fans gathered shoulder-to-shoulder gazing up at him, the young rocker was lost for words. Pausing only momentarily to savour the moment, The Southern River Band dive head first into the first single from Live At The Pleasure Dome, “Pandora.” A year of relentless gigging in WA’s premier venues has seen SRB’s live show become a well-oiled machine. The band burn through song after song flawlessly. Kramer’s gruff vocals and nimble-fingered pyrotechnics send contagious adrenaline through the monitors, the formidable Carlo Romeo pounding his drums, the whole room moving to his powerful playing. You can tell the band is having the time of their lives as they rock and roll through the upbeat County-infused “Through The Forest And The Lakes” to the full bore Blues thumper that is ‘Let It Ride.” Pausing only to let Kramer deliver a few trademark tall tales or comically abuse their manager, these Rock ‘n’ Roll bandits delivered the show everyone was hoping for.
As the band once again thanks the packed-out venue for attending, the roar of the crowd demands the one song they have yet to play, that everyone came to hear. The chiming chords of “One Of These Nights (I’ll Be Gone)” ring across the room and the crowd screams louder still. SRB’s flagship song, this memorable ballad features two blistering solos, a deafening sing-along and Kramer’s own mother on stage playing guitar with him. As the shirtless frontman lifts his guitar above his head to deliver the final squealing guitar lines of the night, so concludes a special performance from “The little band from Thornlie that could.” I can only hope the future holds bigger things for The Southern River Band, but this show will remain a pivotal point in their journey. For a local band, it was simply as good as it gets.