Live Review: Boy & Bear, The Jungle Giants, Tin Sparrow

12 June 2012 | 11:40 am | Mitch Knox

Tonight has a good feeling about it from the get-go, when Sydney-based purveyors of folk-tinged indie rock Tin Sparrow start proceedings with the slide guitar-dappled gloss of Hector Myola in front of a very healthy-sized crowd. Keyboardist/vocalist Sonja Van Hummel's contributions to the lush harmonies of the opener and My Own are regrettably a little lost in the mix, but by the time they knock it down a notch for the sweet lament of Bricks, both she and vocalist/guitarist Matt Amery soar. They end on a high with the driven two-step of For You, setting the bar high with a showing of which the away team can go home unapologetically proud.

Next to the plate are hometown up-and-comers The Jungle Giants, who've gained so much onstage confidence and swagger over the course of recent tours their relative inexperience shows through not visually, but only in their modest pool of songs. Still, the silver lining is, that makes their polished and comfortable set easy to remember and instinctively dance to, which is exactly what everyone does for the upbeat joy that permeates proceedings, starting with No One Needs To Know. The four-piece show – perhaps unintentionally – a touch of the Vampire Weekends with Back To The Start, but everyone's having too much fun to mind. Their stalwart finisher Mr Polite is when they really hit their stride, though bassist Andrew Dooris' ritual crowd-surf attempt does kind of turn into a slightly uncomfortable-looking – but still fun enough – crowd-walk.

When the evening's raison d'etre, Sydneyside indie folk heroes Boy & Bear, start their eagerly-awaited set, it's easier to hear than to see them, courtesy of an overzealous smoke machine. But the strains are unmistakeable, the celebrated five-piece kicking off with the pulsing kick and floating harmonies of Rabbit Song before resoundingly sweeping all of their feet with Lordy May and early single Milk & Sticks. Frontman Dave Hosking is all affable charm, winning those in attendance over with praise for both The Tivoli (“I think it's my favourite venue”) and his slick honey-voiced melodies. They treat the crowd to some new material in Three-Headed Woman, then hit a height with a clear favourite, their sprawling interpretation of Fall At Your Feet. The quintet doesn't really take a bad step, yet another highlight in Feeding Line finding the crowd enthusiastically helping out on vocal duties. They resiliently march on through Big Man and Mexican Mavis before ending on a high with the upbeat punch of Golden Jubilee. It's a solid finish and, although some signs of tour fatigue have been present at times, their performance leaves a palpable buzz in the air as the satisfied punters disperse into the night.