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Wish we could’ve stayed longer when Andrew McCubbin took over The Gaso

It was, to manipulate Bob Dylan and The Band, after the promised flood. The apocalyptic predictions of days previous may not have eventuated, but Merri Creek was flowing happily, its banks relatively free of the decorative debris and rubbish usually found after a good rain. And where else but Melbourne could you find on a Sunday afternoon a triple bill as good as this.

At the Gasometer Hotel, Roller One was mid-way through its set when we arrived. Are you lost on the highway on Roller One where nothing matters except for Fergus McAlpin’s enigmatic vision, or taken to a higher place of enlightenment where everything else is cheap and nasty? Or does it even matter, when you can close your eyes and drift along with the unbridled wonder of it all.
 
A couple of nights earlier Mick Turner revived his ‘80s noise-punk outfit Fungus Brains for a one-night reformation. With Kishore Ryan on drums, Turner eschews the confrontational edge of punk, but you can still hear those distinctive guitar shards throughout his set. Turner can latch onto a sound, a rhythm, a rock’n’roll lick and layer it until it envelopes the room. There are loops, the barest of feedback and a metronomic drum beat that’s transfixing. Rarely has so little become so much.
 
Andrew McCubbin’s latest record, Once There Was a Fire, is most likely McCubbin’s finest recording yet. Over in Europe, with its attendant cramped living and omnipresent fear of intra-continental brawls, you can understand why McCubbin’s measured, complex tones seem so exotic and fascinating. 
 
There’s an insidious depth to McCubbin’s music. You don’t notice it immediately: melodies played high on the fret board, quietly, carefully, dexterously like a seasoned poacher tickling salmon lying in a stream. The quietness can be eerie, the space between the sound vast and captivating. McCubbin’s voice is dark and haunting; his harmonic interplay with Melinda Kay creates a mesmerising vocal dialectic. When the stillness breaks, McCubbin and his band drench the room with a ferocity of the storms we were promised but arguably never got the day before. We’re roused into euphoric excitement by ‘Once There Was a Fire’, compelled to look within by ‘Wait Here for the Sun’, dazzled by the spiralling beauty of ‘If You Go Up’, seduced by the lush orchestral tones and piercing chords of the set’s finale ‘Stay’.   And stay longer we wanted to do, but we were already sated. Perfectly so.
 
By Patrick Emery
 
Highlight: ‘Once There Was a Fire’.
Lowlight: Hmm, can’t think of anything.
Crowd Favourite: All of it.