The Tea Party @ The Palais Theatre
After seven years languishing in unremarkable side projects, The Tea Party have returned to their spiritual home of Australia to spectacularly announce their return, whip up a little religious fervour in the over-30 bogans with the dubious facial hair and no doubt, pocket a tidy amount of cash. Backlit to highlight their mystical silhouettes we welcomed them only after the loudest world music intro I’ve heard, as they then launched into the loudest and longest guitar intro I’ve heard. This fret wizardry then flowed smoothly into The River, and we were off floating into another dimension.
The next two hours were filled with the hits, expanded into jams and tastefully showed off their chops. Each song started softly and built to a foundation shaking crescendo, centring on weird Eastern guitar tunings and a sea of double kick-drum lunacy, as bassist Stuart Chatwood darted between harmonium, mandolin and some sort of weird foot keyboard. While there’s no doubting the effectiveness of using varied instrumentation and extreme volume disparity within a single song, the formula got old after a while. The entire band are rock solid musicians in their own right, but this is solely The Jeff Martin Show. Prone to more Jimmy Page-isms than you could poke a double-necked violin-bowed guitar at, this is a guy who looks no further than the Holy Burnout Trinity of Led Zep – Doors – Hendrix for inspiration and if you too smoked a lot of weed in your formative years, there’s a lot to get excited about in The Tea Party. What I had no time for was the unnecessary cover of Hallelujah, which the trench coated dude in front recognised as “Orrr yeah… Buckley!” If there’s one song that I need not ever hear covered again, it’s Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. If there’s two, it’s Hallelujah and Paint It Black (they played that too).
Martin said recently that they came back to fill a void that was left when The Tea Party split in 2005. With all his theatrical hand fluttering and self-mythologising of his drug taking and sexual habits, he comes off like an arrogant dick. But you couldn’t say The Tea Party aren’t an incendiary live band. And yeah, he was kinda right: no three-piece today is doing a Led Zeppelin and Doors pastiche with Eastern scales with such self belief, conviction and absolute power.
BY NICK HILTON
Photo: Richard Sharman
LOVED: Authentic psychedelic magic.
HATED: The tool who told everyone to stand up halfway through, as I was supremely baked and enjoying the comfy chairs and my Golden Gaytime.
DRANK: Only what one can smash in the foyer before showtime.