Live Review: Henry Wagons & The Only Children, Cash Savage & The Last Drinks, Ruby Boots

16 November 2015 | 3:40 pm | Guido Farnell

"The charming Henry Wagons & The Only Children's take on troubadour-ish Americana feels a little like cabaret."

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The twang of alt-country music fills the air at Max Watt's for this evening's rather epic AWME showcase. Hailing from Perth, Ruby Boots really are from way out west and brassy redhead Bex Chilcott seems thrilled to have a relatively rare opportunity to play for city slickers in the big smoke. Tonight Ruby Boots are in party mode, intent on dealing big, bright songs that balance country vibes with a little rock. At times her two pedal steel guitarists add a wistful melancholy twang to the mix but Chilcott confidently punches through with more uplifting notes. At times a little rough around the edges, Ruby Boots offer moments of collective country and western brilliance.

The room fills to see the cracking Cash Savage & The Last Drinks. At the moment, Savage looks as though she's nurturing a distinctly Aussie sharpie look that's straight out of the '70s. There's an almost gothic darkness to Savage's blues-soaked country music, which washes over a little like the more rabid parts of Henry's Dream by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. Savage lives up to her name and deals it rough, raw, loud and raucous, sucking us into a swirling vortex of emotion, drama and intoxication. Savage stalks the stage looking a little dangerous and, when she scowls and sneers at us, it's clear you better not mess with her. "This is song about drinking, for all you fucking stupid dumb cunts who drink too much," she announces with all the nastiness she can muster. The band play it wild and furious. Kat Mear simply rips it up on her fiddle to mesmerising effect. They hit the sweet spot when dropping a little soul into the mix to provide more mellow moments. The power of Savage and her band's performance comes from the passion and energy that drives them to play.

After Cash Savage's intense set, the charming Henry Wagons & The Only Children's take on troubadour-ish Americana feels a little like cabaret. Prancing about the stage in a sparkly gold jacket and wearing aviators that Elvis could have worn in the '70s, Wagons is a natural entertainer who is inclined to make punters smile with his jokes and banter in between songs. If we haven't seen a lot of him around town lately it's because he's been to Nashville to record solo album After What I Did Last Night…. Together with his new band The Only Children, Wagons previews new material. Cold Burger, Cold Fries works urban myths about passing out in bed with junk food that greets you in the morning. It's unlikely that a brawl is about to break but a song about being king hit or cold-cocked in a venue like Max Watt's feels a little like a novelty song that's a pain in the head. The playful pastiche of Willie Nelson has Wagons and his band showing the crowd what can only be described as a good time.