Upstairs at the Garage
It's a tough gig, being an australian band in london. back home a hefty fan-base clamours to hear your special blend of acoustic baroque pop. You beat Nick Cave and Savage garden to the Aria song of the year and become the subject of a major record company bidding war.
Commercial radio gives you heavy rotation; your stunning debut album Angel Blood goes gold. Labour Party politicians are quick to seize photo opportunities. The media even prints your name in its intended lower case.
But tonight, Upstairs at the Garage, it is just Leonardo's Bride
and a clutch of noisy antipodean backpackers- more eager, initially, to
catch up with each other than to shut it, listen and enjoy.
After busking away the early Nineties in Europe, Dobson and Manning returned to Sydney with a swath of original material, formed leonardo's bride and toured Australia on the back of a self-financed EP. With great business savvy, they refused two mainstream recording contracts before Mushroom Records promised them free rein plus a jazz rhythm section for Angel Blood.
Their intense but restrained live shows are equally intended to
place emphasis fairly and squarely on the music. Indeed, with candelabras,
cushions, red velvet drapes and four seated band members, this evening's
lounge-style intimacy renders Dobson's first person reflections on life
and love all the more startling.
it is a loaded collection of songs, swirling with undercurrents
and complimented by modest instrumentation - drum brushes here, tiny cymbals
there - and fine harmonies. Offsetting any tweeness with bouts of humour,
growling feedback and even a brief psychedelic wigout, leonardo's bride
plays a tightly coiled set which hints at stadium status but remains firmly
rooted in their Sydney living room.