Eleventh He Reaches London @Rosemount Hotel, North Perth
Wed 6th May, 2009 in Gig Reviews
A stream of eager indie fans trickled through the gates and gathered in the outdoor beer garden to enjoy the warm Autumn night. Inside, one-woman drone show Mystic Eyes ( Lisa MacKinney ) opened to a practically empty room. The local lady was an eerie yet seductive sight, wearing black knee-high stockings and a matching mini-skirt, standing slumped over her guitar with black hair draped across her pale face. Thrumming backbeats oozed from her organ behind the guitar’s drawling moans, spreading a soporific blanket across the spacious room. Overtones rose then fell like the nodding heads of the few devoted onlookers, who clearly appreciated this subtle and largely misunderstood art form. The vast majority of punters, however, remained outside for the duration of the set.
A short time later metal fusion wizards Tangled Thoughts of Leaving lured the growing crowd indoors with A Vexing Predicament the first track from its fresh split with Sydney outfit Sleep Makes Waves. Bassist Luke Pollard and drummer James Hoey cast smooth, sporadic rhythms through the glistering backdrop of Aaron Pollard’s keys, as Andrew McDonald laced the soundscape with timely spurts of quirky guitar. As tends to happen when these boys take the stage, the magical atmosphere and the crowd thickened until a typically explosive climax ensured the audience was large, and wide awake. For its next track the foursome premiered another new song – a mellow, meandering journey through pace and tone – which was followed by the popular Tiny Fragments trilogy. Multiple aural orgasms were inflicted upon the willing crowd as Tangled Thoughts of Leaving blended savage metal riffs, bullet-like drum bursts, war-like roars, fluid jazz piano, twinkling xylophone and a smattering of digital samples with flawless musicianship. Even more so than usual this was a performance to savour, as it was the last time Tangled Thoughts of Leaving would take the stage with gifted drummer Hoey. Any who have had the pleasure of watching the freakish Hoey will appreciate that his is the work of a genius; his manoeuvres as innovative as they are technical, as intricate as they are powerful. He will be sorely missed, but vowed earlier in the night that he planned to return from his eastern hiatus a fitter, tighter beast. Scary.
Victorian quartet Heirs extended the instrumental theme of the night with a disappointingly lackluster set. The group appeared uninterested as they flooded the room with a colourless sound that brought to mind images of a thirsty brontosaurus trudging through muddy pastures. The music itself contained interesting elements – rich background textures adorned the pounding beat, which made way at times for droney segues – however it lacked enough diversity to hold the interest of the majority of punters, and the – œwe’re so bored’ on-stage sentiment flowed down into the crowd the longer the set went on as yawning patrons gradually filtered back into the beer garden for an eye opener.
By the time Eleventh He Reaches London took the stage the room’s population was up and, judging by the vibrations in the floorboards, so was the volume. Having received rave reviews across the country for Hollow Be My Name, their first album in three and a half years, the underground workhorses clearly meant business as they played their last show before embarking upon yet another East Coast assault. The quintet kicked off the ruthlessly loud set by blasting out a feisty rendition of I Am the Bearer, I Stand in Need. With vocalist/guitarist Ian Lenton attacking the microphone like a face-mauling pit-bull and drummer Mark Donaldson giving his kit the bludgeoning of a lifetime, Eleventh He Reaches London proved conclusively that its live act has mirrored its studio work by rising to rousing new levels. Reeling off exceptional track after exceptional track from Hollow Be My Name and engaging the crowd with characteristically cynical banter between songs (at one stage Lenton wished a crowd member – œhappy birthday’ and added with a smile that she had “many years of misery ahead”), Eleventh He Reaches London clearly enjoyed playing to its hometown faithful and the result was an eye-catching, jaw-shaking, ear-drum breaking performance. Fresh, dynamically sophisticated material and tempestuous on-stage energy, combined with trademark vice-like tightness and ear-splitting volume made this by far the most impressive and intense display by Eleventh He Reaches London seen so far.