Like a dirty mistress to a main squeeze, the sideshow is a chance for some of the acts gracing the line up of a music festival to further connect with their fans and reach some of punters that might have missed out on the big ticket. And like a true piece on the side it can either leave you feeling only sorry you weren’t at the main event, or kinda special that you had something of your own. Cold War Kids brought their energetic set off the Bluesfest stage to Melbourne’s 170 Russell last night for a gig that perfectly balanced a little bit of both.
The sold out show, flanked by exciting Victorian 5-piece Foreign/National, brought CWK to a venue the band has almost outgrown. Bursting at the seems from the first chord of the opening track, Don’t Let Your Love Grow Away (From Me), the walls could barely contain the adoring crowd, who were expecting nothing less than what the boys brought to Bluesfest. And they weren’t disappointed.
Moving quickly from the first song they ever wrote for the 2005 Mulberry St EP, to a brand newie from latest album Hold My Home, the boys laid out the piano and beat heavy All This Could Be Yours, the mix of the electric guitar and vocals from frontman Nathan Willett almost immediately reminiscent of a 1970’s super band.
And speaking of, Nathan Willett deserves all the props for fronting this 5 man band of incredible musicians that are all far better categorised as showmen in their own right. Any one of these boys could, and did, hold the crowd in the palm of their hand with a level of performance often only reserved for the man out front. Their instruments doubling as props, whether it was drummer Joe Plummer driving home the chorus of Something Is Not Right With Me or the pretty keys in Hospital Beds, these guys were having the kind of fun on stage that can’t help but seep into the audience. A guitar slammed in the air here, a bouncy keyboardist prodding the crowd there, the show was anything but boring.
Just as apparent were the musical influences, from the obvious comparisons to Arcade Fire to the subtle hints of The Killers, CWK are in good company with their sound. Special moments came in the form of the sexy, grunge-pop sound in Hang Me Out To Dry or the hints of Florence And The Machine in Miracle Mile. You can’t help but wonder why this band isn’t playing stadiums and headlining the big gigs. It’s possibly because, with the exception of latest single First, what they brought to the stage had so much more heart and so much more passion than what translates on the record.
CWK give the feeling that they are a band on the verge, finally tapping in to their potential. One huge radio hit away from headlining Glasto or Coachella. And when they do, they’ll bring it, because CWK are a must-see live act and I for one was happy to have spent the night with them in Melbourne last night.
Gallery: Cold War Kids, Foreign/National – 170 Russell, Melbourne 25/03/16