The Empress, Melbourne 24-03-01
After almost a year of a deprived Melbourne crowd, Bluebottle Kiss was to feed their hunger with some of the most awesome display of music this city has ever seen. It's a warm welcome back to the Bluebottlers, and a big welcome to the new member, Ben Grounds.
The night started off with local Melbourne foursome, Greenkeeper. They are best known for their association with Candle Records, despite not being signed by them. Their tunes were capably performed with two very confident female lead singers. The stylings of this band differed greatly from the other two bands for the night, but it was a welcome warm-up for the main set. Had a beer, waited for the big BbK set by listening to some soft melodies.
Registered Nurse was also on the bill, they were especially good tonight, performing a long set with ample new songs thrown in, plus some old favourites. Songs that made the setlist for them tonight include; Black With Ants, Speedway, Deautche Frauleun and the amazing, Slow. The bassist unfortunately endured a nasty cut to the finger, making tweaking at the double bass quite difficult. A handy member of the audience ironically played nurse and distributed some bandaids to the troubled bassist. Richard Andrew was on full flight with his breathtaking reckless stage wandering exhibits.
Bluebottle Kiss entered the stage amongst a 3/4 capacity audience that most were there to see them, and they were not to be disappointed, as you will find out. The final song for the evening highlighting that fact in less than subtle fashion.
Richard, Ben G, Ben F and Jamie tuned up their instruments and soon all was in readiness. Soon after Jamie uttered the opening statement, "Feel free to dance and go crazy", Tapdancing on the Titanic took flight. This song appealed to me in a big way because this was the first time I've been blessed to hear my favourite band as a fourpiece. The slide guitar ontop of the regular guitar and bass instantly exposed the benefits of having the two guitarists. The song was executed to perfection and hearing it live was a big relief for me, no longer did I have the feeling of watching a band and thinking of how they fail in comparison of a band I feel is better... for I was listening to my favourite band for the first time in a very long time. 'Excited' isn't a term strong enough to cover my feelings of what was to come.
After a magnificent start that still wasn't able to hit home for me, the guys decided to really make coming to terms with reality to be a very tough task, for the pulled out a big gun instantly. Gangsterland was the next song - a full bodied epic that dazzles the senses like not many songs are able to. This newie is very possibly going to be the next BbK hit, and even with the high calibre material these masters are coming up with, I consider this song to be an excellent and apt prime candidate. After a massive build-up during the song, starting with an infectious guitar rhythm and concluding with a emotive and subtle chorus, fireworks erupted as Jamie threw himself into a state of high intensity. The bended knee wielding of the guitar took over for over 2 minutes to close the song. It's moments like these where you just know that it can't get much better than how it currently is.
Next up was another new song of theirs titled Invent the Summer. This is a delicate and momentous song with lyrics clear and setting a scene of beautiful imagery. Jamie and co romanced the Empress folk with this display of more champagne Bluebottle Kiss. You can bottle it, then place it on the top shelf. Ben G was making his presence really felt with his well timed rhythms, and Ben more than justified his move to guitar with consistently proving how much extra a second guitarist can add to any given song. Too good.
When it comes to this band, you can't wait for too long during a set for when they'll pull out some crowd favourites which would temporarily became everyone's favourite for concentrating on just the one song they are currently playing is pretty much the only possibility. This time around it was Smother it in Honey, a short and simple crowd pleasing pop number. Again, intensity set in after a short time and Jamie orchestrated another one of those intense moments of guitar solo majestism. I think there's a law of common sense which states that this song is an impossibility to get sick of, along with 99% of BbK songs coming to think of it.
Following hot on its heels was another from the more recent album, a long epic which graces a large proportion of their sets, and always welcomed to. This moment belonged to, Homeless Blueless and was dedicated to the people down the back. An honest ploy to get people up the front and make them feel like they are doing more. No one went up toward the front, however the many that opted to relax at the back were all very keen and appreciative BbK supporters and should be congratulated on the way they were attentive and expressing their enjoyment towards the set in a low-key manner. I hope much more of the same comes when they play at the Punters Club, perhaps abit more upkey and alot of standing up near the front would be ace too.
Return to the City of Folded Arms is essentially a song about Melbourne. It's a negative song, however the sentiment behind it could differ as Melbourne slowly but surely takes a liking to this band. Melbourne trips need not be monotonous and a sluggish few days, it can soon be deemed as a frantic and highly attentive feast of fans that set high expectations for the band, which can do wonders to helping the band raise to new levels, such as when they pull the big crowds in Sydney and in Adelaide. With Ben Fletcher on guitars, the second guitars that feature so prominently on this formally high-rotation single are now a part of the live set. Hurrah!
It's taken a long time for Bluebottle Kiss to come here, but that long wait has proved to be worthwhile in some respects because the term 'absence makes the heart grow fonder' also most definitely works on a band fanship level. I kept on having troubles being able to come to terms with these special moments that I can't get anywhere else, ones that I would travel a couple of thousands of kilometres in round trips to obtain. Bluebottle Kiss on your doorstep is an unoccasional and wondrous thing.
The sounds of another newie, Pruning the Friend Tree, particularly appealed to me as this is the only song of the set I have never heard of before. This song had a slightly new dynamic to the usual Bluebottle Kiss feel, and it was very welcomed. A slow song, very easy to sit back and relax too, but not reaching the brilliance of some of the new stuff these guys are coming up with. Bluebottle Kiss do need songs such as this one for the specific reason that this band thrives on diversity, and giving the fan what they want could be well defined as placing this song on a recording which features some other of their amazing new songs that are heavy, and some others that are delicate. I think this track will be one of those growers, I'm almost certain of that. I look forward to performance number two.
The guitars distort, the drums start to pound, a loud squealing noise then all of a sudden a massive roar and vocal explosion to start into one of the all time classics, Running Around the White Picket Fence. Tearing the Empress apart with a sea of rage and thick, thick sounds, an impeccable performance impressed the audience members to a high degree. The only sad thing to come to mind was this awesome display of brilliance (I cannot emphasise this word as strongly as I mean it) was bound to come to an end, leaving us Melbournians only one chance to see these guys perform before we are all thrown into the unknown murky waters of not knowing when we will be graced by this Sydney jewel. An amazing song performance to go down in the history of Bluebottle Kiss for many years to come. The only thing that was lacking was the guitar jumps, I think that can be directly attributed to having an extra 25% of floor space being taken up.
To Think I'd Ever Disappoint You ended the night, just as well as it started really. This hasn't been heard on the live scene for a good couple of years now, and I can only assume has made a triumphant return to the setlists because of the healthy addition of an extra instrumentalist that is able to play the slide parts very effectively. This song gets its body through the extra guitar accompaniment. It was a really good way to end the set for the song features a broad range of moments, peaking at the intensity of the mid-song instrumental part that resembled a imaginary minefield.
Throughout the 45 minutes of a very high standard performance, many hours of thoughts come through one's mind a the music takes you away on an extended journey to thoughts of calm island lifestyle to a storm in a raging ocean. This band has got it all, and they have not lost one thing, and always gain that little extra each time they make the trek southwards in their trusty hired Tarago. No one yells out songs these days because the mood of the gig would always be high, and the boys know the right medicine to prescribe to the audience in order to pull out a stellar performance of high enjoyment. Just if one of the three long-term band members are able to step aside and to look onto Bluebottle Kiss with fresh eyes and see how truly amazing they are without the inevitable thoughts of the labour and evolution behind each song. The world is made of new beginnings, but one thing is certain - Bluebottle Kiss are the most complete and brilliant band this world has to see in my eyes, and that is not going to change anytime in the near future and beyond. Do not resist this band - succumb to them.