I was first introduced to the beautiful basket case that is The Murlocs when I was working for their agent and booking accommodation for last year’s Young Blindness tour. In Adelaide, all five of them slept in a single hotel room instead of checking into the three I’d booked for them*. In Sydney, they ran a hire car into a pole. Given their style is self-described as ‘sloppy’, I really shouldn’t have been so surprised.
WA was lucky enough to score four dates as part of The Murlocs’ Old Locomotive tour, including the final show at Mojo’s Bar on Sunday night. Each of the WA shows had a different local support – in Fremantle we had indie-pop acts Terrible Signal and Felicity Groom.
I rolled up to the sold-out Mojo’s show solo since my friends had run out of money and willpower in equal measures after a gig-packed weekend in Perth. Whilst waiting for the main act I made friends with a tie-dye shirt-wearing lad named Denim who like me had also seen The Murlocs at Badlands the night before. Denim later fly kicked me in the head, but more on that later.
As per the rest of the tour, The Murlocs arrived on stage in matching jumpsuits, with lead vocalist Ambrose Kenny-Smith rocking their other moniker ‘Uncle Murl’ in tidy stitching across his chest. Ambrose’s wailing vocals and charisma are undeniably captivating as they open with ‘Compensation’, one of the singles from 2016’s Young Blindness.
In all honestly The Murlocs are my favourite band right now. Their sound is a blistering combination of R&B and 70s garage rock that just sounds unlike any other act right now. They could’ve played any mashup set list and I’d have been happy, but they did a great mix of new, old and even older tunes. To be weirdly accurate, they played ten from Old Locomotive, four from Young Blindness and two from debut LP Loopholes.
New album highlights for me that night were definitely ‘Empty Nesters’ and ‘Oblivion’. The crowd seemed to prefer ‘Snake In The Grass’, ‘Shit Storm’ and ‘Old Locomotive’, the latter of which resulted in the first crowd surfer of the night. Cue Denim’s thankfully un-heeled boot glancing my cheek and landing hard into my right shoulder. I can’t complain though, and unlike Ambrose, I didn’t cop a half-full can of export to the face. To his credit he did manage to dodge the second tinning a few songs later. Somewhere between ‘Think Out Loud’ and ‘Loopholes’ I saw a trash can crowd-surfed past – perhaps suggesting empties should be thrown in the bin instead of at the band. Get your shit together people.
The set ended on what is arguably the best song from the new album, ‘Noble Solider’ to cheers and unanswered calls for an encore. I was disappointed not to hear ‘Space Cadet’ but hey, you can’t win em’ all. I still rate this gig 5 out of 5 emu exports to the head.
I spotted the band’s booking agent after the show and had a quick chat about how the tour had gone (she’s also a former colleague so this is far less creepy than it sounds). Almost every city sold out and they ones that didn’t only missed it by that much. I only see things getting bigger for The Murlocs and I’m already awaiting new music because I’m horribly unfair like that.
If you missed them in August then make up for it and grab a ticket to Gizzfest in November/December where you’ll catch them alongside a bunch of other artists hand-picked by their friends King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.
*One time I booked King Gizzard’s touring party of eight in a six-person shack in the outskirts of Tasmania so I suppose this is actually not so bad by comparison.