Where: The Corner Hotel, Melbourne
When: February 3rd 2015
This review originally appeared on Tonedeaf.com.au
As soon as the lights dimmed Perth’s finest purveyors of all things psychedelic Pond were greeted with such a rousing response from the highly animated audience, you’d swear they’d just walked out onto a hometown stage. Every section of Swan Street’s infamous Corner Hotel was tightly packed as the crowd members fought for the best possible vantage point, a good 30 minutes before the foursome appeared.
With their most recent record Man It Feels Like Space Again having only just hit the shelves, there was an palpable sense of anticipation from the sold out venue’s attendees. As the slight figure of front man Nick Allbrook took up his position to the right of the stage, he strapped on his guitar and the band kicked things off with the mesmerising ‘Waiting Around for Grace’, which also opens their latest long-player.
With drummer Jay Watson’s kit being perched more or less behind Allbrook, it afforded more room for Pond’s oversized amplifiers in the middle of the stage, to make an immediate impact. This resulted in the band’s output being blared out at an even higher decibel level for the duration for their kaleidoscopic tinged 70 minute set.
Jamie Terry’s keyboards, which was set up front and centre, played a pivotal role during the whole performance, while Watson battered his kit for the duration and second guitarist Shiny Joe Ryan moved about the stage rather erratically, as did Allbrook, while shredding his instrument at every opportunity.
There was never a sign of any sound issues throughout Pond’s high octane performance, as Allbrook’s vocals seemingly floated over the enthusiastic spectators with ease. The tempo levels continued with the pop indebted ‘Elvis’ Flaming Star’, as the heads in attendance bobbled in unison once its opening chords announced themselves.
With Pond having now put out six albums in the space of six years, it was no surprise they dipped into their back catalogue now and again. This resulted in the passionate crowd going a little nuts, as ‘You Broke My Cool’ from 2012’s Beard, Wives, Denim and ‘Giant Tortoise’ and ‘Midnight Mass’ off 2013’s Hobo Rocket got an airing. However the loudest cheers appeared when ‘Don’t Look at the Sun or You’ll Go Blind’ from their Psychedelic Mango debut was thrown into the mix.
Watson then took lead vocals on the distinctive yet slower paced ‘Sitting Up On Our Crane’, as his colleague’s entrancing psyche-like backing vocals worked fantastically well. The mosh pit then picked up a notch or two during ‘Zond’, which Allbrook announced had just received its “debut live performance”. The front few rows then went into overdrive with the aforementioned ‘Giant Tortoise’, as its Sabbath-esque riffs built up and up into what sounded like a cacophonous space-jam, and with the crowd surfers in full force, the security staff were led on a merry dance of catch me if you can.
With the band not wanting to reach lift off quite yet, the slower and more country sounding ‘Medicine Hat’ brought a bit of calmness back to proceedings. With Ryan taking centre stage in the vocal department, it highlighted how much respect the member’s have for one another’s ability, be that vocally or lyrically. It was obvious the audience appreciated the slight lull, as more of a composed sway emanated from those in close quarters up the front.
With each passing song, the crowd grew more appreciative and the feeling was clearly mutual from all four band members as they repeated on numerous occasions, how much fun they were having and how amazing the response they were receiving felt, especially for the newer tracks.
The mini epic that is ‘Man It Feels Like Space Again’ brought an end to the night’s proceedings, as its intricate yet juxtaposing soundscapes, layered loops and infectious harmonies highlighted just how far Pond are prepared to venture for that perfect mish- mash of psychedelia, prog and indie pop syrupiness.
Photos courtesy of Bernard Winter