Photos by Matthew Shaw
Alongside a six-piece band, the pop wizard lit up the Northcote Social Club with warmth and affability.
“What are you doing tonight?” It’s Friday evening and my mum’s on the phone. “I’m going to see Gregor at the Northcote Social Club,” I tell her. Mum lives in Sydney, but she knows the venue; I took her to see The Goon Sax there in March. She loved it, even more than me.
“He’s a solo artist, but plays with a six-piece band. It’s kind of a new wave/new age thing with a bit of a Talking Heads vibe.” It’s not the most incisive comparison, but it’s the easiest ballpark measure. And besides, Gregor Kompar’s voice is essentially a mix of David Byrne and Damon Albarn, dipped in adolescent naiveté.
“I saw him at Golden Plains, first thing in the morning, and it was entirely revitalising,” I say. “He has a marimba player.”
“Oh, I think I’d really like that,” says mum. “Terry are playing too,” I continue. “I’ve been a fan for years, but I still haven’t seen them live.”
“I know Terry,” follows mum. “I’m jealous.”
I was already hotly anticipating the gig, which comes eight months after the release of Gregor’s second LP, Silver Drop, but mum’s enthusiasm cranked the excitement even further. Who doesn’t love a Friday night at the Northcote Social Club? And if Chapter Music are handling the bookings, then you know you’re in for a good time.
I wasn’t the only one who was excited – Gregor sold out the 300-cap room, which was mostly full when Terry kicked off their support set. Terry are a sweet proposition, comprising a couple of couples. They’re true revivalists of the late-70s little band scene – between them, the four members have probably belonged to 20-plus noteworthy bands over the last decade, including Total Control, Dick Diver, School of Radiant Living, and Constant Mongrel.
Terry recall the little band scene in sound as well. Their post-punk compositions favour melodic simplicity, power chord riffs, slyly political lyrics, and a general no-nonsense approach. The band’s three LPs are a lot of fun, but their raw and direct sound is better suited to the stage and they proved to be no mere support act.
Gregor and his six accomplices – including a violinist and the anticipated marimba player; such a rare and wonderful sight in itself – showered the now-packed room in positive vibrations. Kompar’s not a scintillating front person, but the band’s performance was more about an exchange of feelings than any flashy tricks.
‘I Look Devastated’ and ‘A Song About Holding Hands’ were predictable highlights and their impact wasn’t curtailed by expectations. The room was glowing throughout and the sound was spot on, capturing Gregor’s sentimental nuances and curvy melodic deviance. There was no encore, but Gregor came back to remind us it was winter solstice. The longest night of the year and I’m glad I spent it with you.
Highlight: ‘A Song About Holding Hands’.
Lowlight: No encore.
Crowd favourite: That marimba.