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Live Review: His Merry Men, The Dub Captains, The Bon Scotts

29 June 2012 | 12:59 pm | Madeleine O’Gorman

The phrase “beer o'clock” is scrawled under the bar ledge, but pots and pints are few and far between at today's matinee show, with the weary-eyed punters instead opting for Red Bull. Not the least bit deterred by the echoey room, opening act The Bon Scotts give an absolutely brilliant performance. Complete with mandolin and piano accordion, the folk rockers display a level of artistry that's both admirable and exuberant. Notable mention goes to the mandolin player who, with one leg perched on an amp, performs an animated (and hilarious) solo on his tiny eight-string. All 12 members of The Dub Captains are beaming as they squeeze onstage next. The chemistry of the group is undeniable and a welcoming addition to their soulful, reggae tunes. The band's only nemesis is their chosen attire, which sees them looking more barbeque than stage-ready. All it would take is some simple tee swapping to lift the spectacle tenfold.

The crowd begins to swell with the arrival of today's headliners, His Merry Men. Having already achieved triple j rotation, the nine-piece Brisbane act are in town to launch their debut LP, Kind Of Loud. The collection of big-band tunes is inspired by their love of surf rock, electronica and hip hop, yet to draw comparisons to these genres is an injustice to their huge, jazz sound. Lead singer Megan Crocombe is the backbone of the group and, in between charming the crowd with witty banter, she sings with a gorgeous, emotive resonance that glides over their monumental musical pieces. What's more, each song has its own stunning, pre-planned performance, whether it be a simple, choreographed dance number or unified kneeling while one member remains standing to perform a solo.

The set reaches new heights when Crocombe introduces baritone saxophonist Andrew Ball, who owns the stage with one hell of a masterly improv number while his bandmates watch in awe. It's this healthy reverence for each other that makes them all the more endearing to watch. Despite having every reason to take themselves seriously (after all, they are professionally trained), they don't, and instead can be seen pulling quirky faces without missing a note. The highlight of the set is their single, Super Secret Spies, a fast and funky-layered tune with a smattering of new-age jazz. To the crowd's delight, the horn section ends the show with yet another killer unison dance. And with that, it's time for some beers.