The Hello Morning and Immigrant Union at Northcote Social Club
I had my first night out in Melbourne when I was sixteen, in which my sister took me along to see her workmate's band at a nightclub somewhere in the city. The place was something else, containing enough stimuli to fry my pubescent, country mind - indistinguishable trannies, dildo vending machines, horrific murals, and worst of all, warm VB stubbies. "Wow, Melbourne's fucked up," I must have thought. The act were folk-rockers The Hello Morning, who at that time were going through their formative stage. Since then, I've kept track of the merry band as they shuffled and expanded their ranks, as well as develop an exponentially greater knack for booking more appropriate venues. Tonight, their journey brings them to The Northcote Social Club for a double-whammy headline slot alongside the ubiquitous Immigrant Union.
Kicking off the evening are burgeoning country-bent solo outfit Blue As The Day. I think I read somewhere that Bob Dylan pitch-shifted his vocals down a notch for Nashville Skyline - not sure if that's actually true, but if the vox on that album were to be knocked down another octave or two, you'd get some idea of what this kid from Werribee sounds like. With a brooding presence displaying a surprisingly pleasant mix of US alt-country and Australiana-tinged folk - though that sounds a little cringe-inducing on paper, Blue As The Day manages to pull it off with a haunting sincerity. Rounding out his set with the somewhat obscure Hank William's crooner Weary Blues From Waiting, the troubadour left quite an impression on all earlybirds in attendance.
I'll say it again, Immigrant Union are everywhere. Much like how The Social Network was appropriated into discussions as 'that Facebook movie', the band are trying to rise above being labelled 'that band with The Dandy Warhols guy'. It was apparent that I wasn't the only one keen to check out whether the act's prevalence was due to merit, with the bandroom being pretty chockers - mainly with industry types. What followed was a fairly middling set of country rock tracks, and to continue the Dylan-checking, every song kinda sounded like an alternate take to Like A Rolling Stone. Extremely proficient, but rarely extremely-interesting, Immigrant Union are a little too 'Stillwater' for my liking, But if you're looking for a band to jam out in your 1970s-set biopic, look no further.
Gearing up for the long-gestating release of their debut longplayer, the densely populated Hello Morning took to the stage in a whirl of guitars and keys. To run the Dylan references right into the ground, the group sound like the result of Paul Kelly taking over songwriting duties for The Band.
Ever since picking up a copy of Thin Lizzy's Jailbreak as a teen, I've had a deep infatuation with the act of harmonic double-lead guitar solos (there's probably a proper name for it, but I can't be fagged looking it up). So it came as an unexpected surprise to mark my first instance of witnessing one in the wild happened to be at a folk-rock gig. While the two guitarists weren't exactly shirtless and back-to-back in the middle of the stage, there's something to be said when they can pull it off while looking opposite directions with about five bandmates in between.
After all band members retreated to leave only frontman Steven Clifford front-and-centre, none other than Dan Sultan climbed out of the audience and onstage to belt out a soulful rendition of Wilson Pickett's classic Don't Let The Green Grass Fool You. Before winding up, Dan proclaimed something along the lines of, "Hello Morning are the best band in Melbourne - Australia - and the fuckin' world." While I wouldn't get that hyperbolic, the gig left me pretty keen to see what's in store for their debut LP.
Loved: That Dan Sultan duet was pretty spesh.
Hated: Getting stuck in the bar lane for Immigrant Union. Lousy immigints, even when it was the bears, I knew it was 'dem! (*Cough*tenuoussimpsonsreference*)