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LIVE REVIEW: THE TEA PARTY, Perth – 9 October, 2014

| 14 October 2014 | Reply

LIVE REVIEW: THE TEA PARTY, Perth – 9 October, 2014
The Tea Party with The Superjesus – Crown Theatre, Perth, Western Australia
Thursday 9 October, 2014
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Photography by Stuart McKay

LIVE The Tea Party 9 Oct 2014 Perth by Stuart McKay  (11)

As the first Tea Party tour in almost ten years showcasing new material, anticipation was high in Perth, and the Canadian power trio rose to the occasion in epic style, while frontman Jeff Martin showed his many sides: loving father, consummate rogue, enigmatic rockstar, born musician and more.

Firstly though, The Superjesus took the stage ten minutes late but on fire, lashing out with crowd favourites including Shut My Eyes and Gravity. It’s hard to shake the impression that they’d be a pretty bog standard meat n’ potatoes pub band without the dynamic pocket rocket Sarah McLeod out front, such is her beaming smile, irrepressible energy and star quality from the get-go, but she makes sure the experience is unique enough to stick in memories.

The Tea Party take the stage as silhouettes under a backdrop of their latest album cover whilst a middle eastern backing track plays, the crowd voicing their approval loudly. When the striking purple and white lights go up, the band are instantly the great Rush/Led Zeppelin-influenced power trio they were at their best, proving that their time apart has refreshed and renewed them in the most positive of ways. Any fat from the Transmission years has been well and truly excised, with the band proving to be a sinuous, groove-fuelled rock beast.

That new album, The Ocean At The End, seems to have polarised opinion, but in truth it’s a startling return to form, and as spiky blonde Jeff Burrows pounds his kit like an octopus, the more sombrely presented Stuart Chatwood nails down the complex rhythms on bass and keys, but most eyes remain on the shamanistic lead singer and guitarist Martin.

At their best The Tea Party are mesmeric – hypnotic even – but Martin is keen to flirt and play with his decadent rock god reputation, cracking self-deprecating jokes in between summoning some of the most intense music this side of Robert Johnson’s Tennessee crossroads.

There is, with all the best bands, a fragility, a feeling that the house of cards could come tumbling down at any moment. With this, we know they are playing at their peak, walking the highwire in a musical sense, that their emotions and heart and soul are precariously displayed. At their best – which is most of the time – The Tea Party embrace and embody this, and the vague notion of hesitancy that permeated their 2012 reunion tour has long been dispelled.

‘I’m gonna pull out something I haven’t pulled out in a long time!’ Martin teases – prompting one young lady to yell, ‘pull it out!’ – before he sits with an exotic gourd-based stringed instrument for an intro to debut album classic Save Me. Later in the song he plays a Jimmy Page-inspired violin bow guitar solo, and by this stage we are convinced there’s no coincidence that the words showman and shaman are so closely related.

‘All those rumours about me – the occult, the drugs, the drink, the women… they’re all true,’ jokes Martin, ‘but I would never lead you into Temptation!’ intros that tune, which then segues into a muscular Transmission.

It’s heartwarming to see three such talented musicians gel so well on stage, doubly so given their sometimes turbulent history. They feed off each other musically, their flame completely rekindled.

Martin returns to the stage for a triumphant encore prelude of Led Zep’s In My Time Of Dying, before the band gallop through Turn The Lamp Down Low and the ferocious blues of The Cass Corridor from The Ocean At The End.

The epic Sister Awake segues into Pulse as Burrows leads a young boy on a wander around the stage, only for Martin to proudly beam, ‘that’s my son!’ It’s a nice personal touch from a man considered almost other-worldly by many. The song shudders to a crescendo with Martin back on guitar after a spell playing bongo drums, and The Tea Party (and Martin Junior) take a bow, safe in the knowledge that the job was well and truly done.

Set List: The Superjesus

Stick Together
Shut My Eyes
Secret Agent Man
Down Again
Set List: The Tea Party

The L.O.C.
The Bazaar
The Black Sea
Fire In The Head
Water’s On Fire
Save Me/ The Maker
The Ocean At The End/ Emerald
Temptation/ Transmission

Turn The Lamp Down Low/ The Cass Corridor
Sister Awake/ Pulse

Category: Live Reviews

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