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Live Review: Howling Bells, Cull, Glassmaps

15 September 2014 | 2:15 pm | Helen Lear

Howling Bells satisfy Sydney at Oxford Art Factory.

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Joel Stein, aka Glassmaps, took a step outside his usual role as lead guitarist for Howling Bells and into the limelight for Friday night’s gig at the Oxford Art Factory.

Unfazed by the small early crowd, he cut a cool figure backed by drummer and fellow band mate Glenn Moule as they pumped through pared-back rock track, Dare You, and melodic ballad, Inner Place, before finishing off with bluesy number, My Head My Heart.

A serge of fans pushed to the front for Sydney rock four-piece Cull.

An epic, Pink Floyd-inspired guitar intro started the set before the heaped-on effects and reverb kicked in for tracks Keep My Star and World Inside Your Head that unfortunately completely overpowered the sound. A cover of Pavement’s Shady Lane worked well and certainly seemed to please the growing crowd.

A packed house screamed with delight when London-based Sydney darlings Howling Bells took to the stage, clearly having been missed after all these years away. Singer Juanita Stein looked like a glamorous country star, cool and composed as the set got started with Paris, from new album, Heartstrings.

Swaying into the guitar and emanating sex appeal, her distinctive voice oozed through classic tracks Blessed Night and A Ballad For The Bleeding Hearts before picking up the pace for punchy new track, Original Sin.

Next, a move to second album, Radio Wars, for Nightingale and Cities Burning Down, both of which received a great reception from the crowd. The upbeat Digital Hearts got everyone dancing before a captivating rendition of Reverie closed the set.

After a very brief exit, they returned for the beautifully gentle ballad, Paper Heart, which went down surprisingly well for a rowdy Friday night. But it was closer, Broken Bones that stole the night, prompting a mass singalong till the end

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A solid homecoming, they were welcomed with open arms by the satisfied Sydney crowd.