It still feels bizarre having live music back as an acceptable form of entertainment. After a year(ish) without it, entering into a packed theatre to watch a band plays feels like an out-of-body experience. As people pile in, your body goes through a bizarre mix of euphoria and reluctance.
“I can’t believe I’m getting the chance to see live music again!” clashes with silly internal questions like “How do I dance?” or “What if my legs give way after a year of sitting on the couch?”
But both the euphoria and reluctance came second to the overwhelming anticipation Newcastle fans of Spacey Jane had for this tour. It was cancelled and rescheduled on two separate occasions, so the fact it was happening at all was almost too hard to believe.
Luckily, Spacey Jane made sure to take the opportunity by the horns and play as if it was their last ever show – and suddenly that reluctance shedded away.
To say Spacey Jane had a profound impact on Australian music fans in 2020 would be an understatement. In a year where music was restricted to our headphones and to our speakers, Spacey Jane delivered their debut album Sunlight and made it feel like fans had something to look forward to once restrictions lifted.
As Caleb, Peppa, Ashton and Kieran walked out on to the stage, to ear-shattering screams from a packed out Civic Theatre, it was hard to distinguish who was happier to be there – us or them.
Maybe that’s why, as they unleashed with opener ‘Skin’, it felt like they were playing like they never have before. As Kieran held down the fort with the drums, Caleb, Ashton and Peppa flailed around the stage like kids with toy instruments – except these were real, and translated perfectly to a live setting. ‘Skin’ set the tone for the show ahead.
This was going to be nothing but a Spacey Jane jam session, except with 1,400 onlookers.
The energy continued through songs from the band’s relatively short discography, but fans were belting out every word as if they were modern classics – and who’s to say they won’t become that? Each member of the band gave their all every single track, from ‘Sawteeth’ to ‘Weightless’ to ‘Good Grief’.
Even better is the electricity they imbued the theatre with paled in comparison to the sparks they shared with one another. Any time vocals weren’t required, Caleb, Peppa and Ashton were running up to one another – still strumming – and dancing back and forth with one another. At one point, Ashton and Peppa – standing at either side of the stage – were literally running to and from the opposite side of the stage. They were relentless.
In fact, Ashton’s energy in particular was hard to ignore. As Caleb sang his way through the words he penned and Peppa bopped along with her bass strums – never not smiling – Ashton looked as if the music had possessed him. You’ve heard of Este Haim’s bass face, now get ready for Ashton Hardman-Le Cornu’s guitar grimace (it’s a working title). He would hiss, have his mouth agape, stick his tongue out and more, feeling every element of the music flow through him – which in turn helped all of us let loose ourselves.
There were tender moments in the set too. The band had no problem establishing a rapport with the crowd, who would scream at their every word. Not too sure Kieran knew what he was in for when he asked the crowd “what’s there to do in Newy on a Wednesday night?” and was met with a barrage of unintelligible shrieks, the only discernible word he got away from it being ‘KFC’.
But, perhaps the most tender moment of the set came during one of Caleb’s brief adresses to the crowd. He said, “Newy feels like home to us”. And this is from a Perth band whose first major headlining show in the city was only the night before.
Yet, as they belted their way through ‘Straightfaced’, the incomparable ‘Booster Seat’ – shout out to the guy who wrote “shoulda been #1′ on his phone and displayed it to the crowd – and the crunchy closer ‘Good For You’, it did feel like a sort of homecoming.
It might have been because the Newcastle shows in particular were postponed so many times. It might be because Newy fans go notoriously hard and Spacey Jane could match that energy. Maybe they say that to every crowd they perform in front of. Maybe it’s none of the above.
What’s certain, though, is that Spacey Jane made the Newcastle crowd feel special, loved and worthy, and – judging by the smiles that graced each member of the band’s face at each applause – it might be safe to say that we made them feel the same way.