Live Review: Albert Hammond Jr, Gunns

20 February 2016 | 12:10 pm | Xavier Rubetzki Noonan

"The set was an absolute spectacle of controlled chaos."

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Perth quartet Gunns used powerful drums and atmospheric lead lines to fill in the gaps between simple barre-chord progressions. Frontman Clinton Oliver’s moody, washed-out vocal blended in nicely, but what he was singing seemed less important than guitarist Jennifer Aslett’s melodies, and the textural variety provided by the drummer. Their last song impressed the most, beginning with a strong bass-driven groove and opening up into a great vocal melody reminiscent of something the Arctic Monkeys might write.

Where Albert Hammond Jr’s taut melodies and beat-perfect compressed drums can sometimes seem a little too processed and squeaky-clean on record, their live show is something entirely different. The metronomic precision and determined professionalism are still there, but the energy is cranked up to 11, with three absolutely searing electric guitars piling atop bass and drums. The band easily packed 20 songs into their set, an all-out barrage of lightning-fast power-pop hooks that didn’t waste a second of stage time. Between double guitar solos, incredibly dexterous drumming, and Hammond’s great vocal range, the set was an absolute spectacle of controlled chaos.

Perhaps most remarkable was the fact that it happened at such an intimate venue. As The Strokes’ guitarist, Hammond played to some of the largest venues on Earth, but in the club setting, you really got the chance to take in Hammond’s charisma as frontman. During new album favourites like Caught By My Shadow and Born Slippy, you could see the determination and earnestness in Hammond’s face as he poured everything into the mic, seemingly without even breaking a sweat. It helped that the show was backed by world-class lighting; dazzling and perfectly-timed, but never distracting from the band dynamic.

The crowd seemed almost wiped-out by the end, but the band, sensing hunger for more, obliged with a generous encore, culminating in the upbeat Holiday, with its guitarmonies providing space for Hammond’s sweet croon. A 30-second gap, complete with stage blackout, faked out the audience, but the band came back with the thunderous arena-rock ending (a live secret track!) to guarantee one more well-earned roar of applause.

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