Marrickville Bowling Club was a hive of activity out on the industrial fringes of Marrickville and a funny old place it is. Areas taped off for safety reasons, the ubiquitous sticky carpets, an evil pokies den tucked away in a corner, an economy sized mirror ball and a ceiling of brown square ceramics that looked like the panels from a Dalek. The ‘stage’ area looked right except it was open to a brightly lit bar area at the back and provide general passage for the bistro and the bowling greens. Kind of shabby, a little chaotic but full of a certain charm, and perfect for three bands that are associated with the phenomenon I like to call The Marrickville Sound. Definition: later generation bands, often formed in or associated with the inner west of Sydney, sometimes second, third or even fourth iterations of bands that were big in the eighties or nineties and who are going through an explosive creative renaissance.
The three bands on the bill were perfect accompaniments to the sound, the feel and the general ethos of The Marrickville Sound. And they collegiately shared members which to me was an incredible feat and an indication of the level of musicianship on stage. And, all are bands I have enthusiastically reviewed here at Backseat Mafia in the past: well worth a trip from Hobart to witness.
First up was a band I had been looking forward to hearing for ages – the somewhat elusive The Wednesday Night who released a single ‘The Perfect Scene’ way back in 2020 which remains to this day one of my favourite releases of the past few years. They hadn’t played since 2018 and I was rather excited to see them in action. Their fare was very much in the tone of the single – Laura Murdoch’s vocals have an enigmatic Jane Birkin quality about them, the entire band exuding a sort of louche swinging sixties vibe, and Rob Young (co-songwriter with Murdoch) creating shimmering sounds with his guitar. Young is everywhere for a reason – he is in The Finalists (another favourite) and has considerably augmented the sound of The Lovetones. How he manages to fit all those chords and riffs in his head, I don’t know.
There was a promise of more recorded material to come but it was a rare and joyous opportunity to see them in action.
Murdoch re-appeared in Lewis Goldmark on keys and backing vocals. The driving force of Lewis Goldmark and highly sought after producer, Liam Judson fronted an exciting set from his debut album ‘Cut And Flash’, reviewed by Backseat Mafia recently. An eclectic fare, again nodding obliquely to a lounge room sixties sound. Judson was originally in Belles Will Ring (and Magnetic Heads) and producer of many eminent bands, some of whom have graced our pages in the past including Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Imperial Broads, Cloud Control and The Lovetones. The band included the brilliant and versatile go-to drummer for The Marrickville Sound, Nick Kennedy.
The set covered tracks from the album and the band exuded confidence and panache in the delivery, with Judson an energetic and charismatic performer.
The Lovetones, much beloved by us here at Backseat Mafia and headed by the enigmatic and avuncular Matthew J Tow, were in brilliant form – their sound augmented by the addition of Young as a third guitarist, creating something that seemed far bigger than the constituent parts. The shimmering jingle jangle sound had more layers and intricacies than the number of musicians on stage could produce: euphoric indie pop songs that positively sparkled with more radiance than the spinning glitter ball in the centre of the room.
The band creates a sound that is uplifting and anthemic – a sort of pleasant melange of psychedelia, shoegaze and just a dash of dream pop to add flavour to the recipe.
The band were phenomenal – Chris Cobb on drums (who had appear earlier with The Wednesday Night), Judson and Young on guitars and Matthew Sigley on bass. The latter provided keys and backing vocals as well, but his snaky ambulance bass lines were a feature, as was his ineffable style and presence. The band was having a lot of fun on stage.
Tow though is the consummate frontman: a wry sense of humour, a presence and style that reflects his noticeable history and experience (forming Drop City in the nineties and being a member and songwriter of The Brian Jonestown Massacre for a period). His 12-string Burns guitar provided the shimmer and sparkle while his vocals echoed Lennon at times, Ray Davies at others, with a touch of Britpop Gallagher. The arching, searing melodies illustrated what a great band this is. And, incidentally, illustrated what a throughly decent sound system the Marrickville Bowlo provides amongst the gently shambolic surroundings.
The set list spanned their six releases since their debut in 2002 – a veritable greatest hits – with an enthusiastic response from the appreciative audience. New material – heralded by the recent single ‘Everything Changed’ – is on the way.
City Meets the Stars
Wintertime in Hollywood
Way the Light Dances
A New Low in Getting High
Be What You Want
Inside A Dream
Sound and the Fury