Gig Reviews

The Jezebels, Hey Rosetta & Alpine, Enmore Theatre – 23/10/2011

It was all a bit hazy one morning when I received a call from Tim, my Kiwi housemate, asking me if I would be willing to do a review of ‘The Jizzabels’. Yes, ‘Jizzabells’. In my state of grogginess I politely accepted, despite being absolutely bewildered as to what or who ‘The Jizzabells’ were.

“There’s a CD in my room, go check it out” he declares as he ends the call. So it turns out (much to my satisfaction, I swear!), that they are not a nomadic group of French cabaret dancers called the ‘Jizzabells’, but in fact a Sydney band called The Jezabels with a phenomenal new self-released LP entitled Prisoner. That Kiwi accent – I swear, it gets me every time; you’ll have to forgive my ignorance …

Anyway, a week later and it’s a lovely, warm Sunday night in Newtown. I enthusiastically make my way down to The Jezabel’s second sold-out show at the Enmore Theatre, and I’m just in time for the first band Alpine. Though I was unfamiliar with the outfit, they had some great moments and the two, always-smiling, female vocalists engaged well with the crowd. The drummer added a lovely dimension to the sound with his electronic drum pads/triggers, and the overall performance was honest, grounded and far from pretentious.

Hey Rosetta were up next, a multi-talented ensemble to say the least. In fact, it’s extremely hard to fault a band that somehow manages to incorporate such a multitude of instruments (a friend counted up to about fourteen). String sections comprising of a cello and violin complemented their sound like Vegemite on toast; and the drums – whilst rather quiet in the mix – were able to rhythmically support the band without retracting from the musical efforts of the other members. A frantic, percussive pseudo-encore threw quite a few punters off, including myself. This was a real thrill to watch as they put down their guitars and jammed out about a minute of samba rhythms to make the crowd go wild and scream for more.

A remarkable entrance was displayed from The Jezabels as they stood before a translucent curtain. To everyone’s delight, Prisoner immediately ensued and the crowd erupted into a frenzy of screams and applause. Their illuminated silhouettes danced to the flickering of the theatre lights, and was beautifully executed. The curtain dropped for the second track, Endless Summer – a definite crowd favourite of the night.

The Jezabels are one of those bands that just sound better live – and those are the best sorts of bands. In 2011 it is a rare occasion to witness a rock band without a bassist, and at times it did feel like they could have benefited from having one. However, the immensity of the wall-of-sound guitars, enigmatic pianos and thunderous drums were enough to distract you from such trivial issues, and the lack of bass-weight even added an airy lightness to the experience that completely justified the sonic choice.

Hayley sealed the deal though – with her dynamic vocals that ranged from haunting whispers to all-out sopranos. Effortlessly, she was able to belt out notes at velocities so high you’d think she wasn’t human … oh and that reverb was just icing on the cake (kudos to the sound guy for such a flawless job). Not only is she an absolute natural on the mic, but she had a stage presence about her that just commanded your attention, and before long swarms of ecstatic fangirls were replicating her exact moves.

Highlights of the set included Prisoner, Endless Summer and, of course, the encore that everyone eagerly anticipated – Disco Biscuit Love. All in all, a remarkable gig to round up the start of a new week. All bands successfully delivered a more-than-solid performance, and a top-notch engineer to capture it all in high-fidelity made for another flawless Sunday gig at The Enmore Theatre.

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