banner ad
banner ad
banner ad


| 8 April 2014 | Reply

With Abbe May
The Astor Theatre, Perth, Western Australia – Wednesday 12 March, 2014
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Photography by Maree King

Martha Davis & The Motels LIVE Perth 12 March 2014 by Maree King  (7)
Just when you think ABBE MAY has reinvented herself as a darkly pop princess, she’s back in her guise as local Queen of modern, minimalist blues, exuding class and a mesmeric charisma from a stool and mic stand in the centre of the Astor stage. May informs us – quite seriously – that she’s dealing with a severe bout of amnesia, and relearning her songs. Perhaps this accounts for the return to her rawer, bluesier, guitar based style, but it sounds great on old tracks like We’ll Take A Trip To The Country as well as newer ones like Mammalian Locomotion and T.R.O.U.B.L.E. Universes is a touching song recalling a May and her sister’s childhood near-drowning in Bunbury, and she finishes a lovely set with a sweet and – yes – cute ukulele version of Dream A Little Dream Of Me.

MARTHA DAVIS evokes a minor roar as she enters stage left dressed in bohemian hobo chic, despite the more-than-half-empty theatre. She and her MOTELS were always a unique lot – never sounding like anyone else, even in the 80’s when trends were ridden like waves.

Lending her own punchy guitar playing to her four piece band, featuring original Motels keys/sax player Marty Jourard, they leave no stone unturned with a set that is vital and fiery and anything but a pop throwback.

Take The L is stripped of it’s 80’s pop sheen and turned into a big indie rocker, making it impossible to remember that Davis is a 63 year-old Grandmother. Shame and Celia from their early albums sit comfortably next to late 2000’s tracks such as Careful and solo records like Don’t Tell Me The Time,

Suddenly One Summer and a guitar-solo-filled Danger (Your Love Is Like a Stranger) preface an interlude with just Davis and Jourard playing from her as-yet-unreleased jazz standards record.

Counting, from the band’s debut, sees a gaggle of clearly ‘refreshed’ ladies rush to the stage to desperately grasp their cult idol’s outstretched hand, before Davis laughs that the next track – Forever Mine – was “a love song – a happy song! What’s THAT doing in the set!” It must be said that her work has always had a darker and enduring edge at odds with the lightweight pop world. No wonder she then intro’s Closets & Bullets with the line, “now we’re gonna get back to tragic.”

She has, perhaps against the odds at this time of her life, reconstructed herself and struck a workable balance between pop and rock that refuses to be a throwback to the synth-filled 80’s, but moves forward with a rocking band and pure talent.

Apocalypso closes out their set, seeing Davis finally shed the bowler hat and grungey jacket, and makes room on the stage for another fine Jourard sax solo.

Of course, she’s not getting away without playing her two biggest hits, and as the band strike up Total Control, Davis enters through the back of the room and wanders through the crowd, hugging and kissing, posing for selfies, clutching at hands, and always singing, her unique voice eking out every ounce of desire from the song.

Finally, Only The Lonely, featuring an excellent guitar solo from Clint Walsh, gives us one last chance to see Martha Davis in all her glory leading these melancholic tales of yearning like a pied piper of the lost.


Category: Live Reviews, Photo Galleries

About the Author ()

Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

Leave a Reply

Please verify you\'re a real person: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

banner ad
banner ad