Live Review: Jeremy Neale, Go Violets, James X. Boyd & The Ceos

12 August 2012 | 12:15 pm | Madeleine Laing

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Tonight's show is exciting for a lot of reasons: firstly it's the start of Jeremy Neale's single tour, so his band won't be Brisbane's not-very-well-kept secret much longer, plus it's also James X. Boyd's first solo show, and expectations are high. Finally, Go Violets are starting to make headway after years of being one of Brisbane's most consistent actss, and tonight they've also got a new single to debut.

By the time James X. Boyd & The CEOs start up, Black Bear Lodge is already half full of with a crowd ready to have their faith realised. The band doesn't disappoint, with stripped back guitar and laconic vocals (it's a rare treat to hear James Boyd's voice free of reverb) and a sound like Lou Reed meets The Go-Betweens (via Dick Diver). There's an obvious shared vision between Boyd and guitarist Michael Fletcher; although this is definitely Boyd's show, Fletcher's confident lead lines are vital and seamless.

Go Violets' sound is like the good parts of the '60s and the '90s, held together by the immediately likeable vocal of Phoebe Imhoff. Her lyrics read like confessions but are sung like demands, and when she asks the crowd to come closer not many can resist. The band is tight, and the set builds in intensity until current single Teenagers, which is a sweet and joyful punch in the face. 

Sometimes at the gigs of new (or new-ish) bands you can play a game where you try and guess which song they'll release next as a single. With Brisbane's omnipresent Jeremy Neale and his ragged bunch of followers, however, this is goddamn impossible. Every song is so instant and swimming in hooks and melody. They're also all, maybe more importantly, completely memorable, deployed by a band with obvious knowledge of how pop songs work. Neale himself gives the performance a sheen of heartfelt precision, with ever-present charm and a voice which is pretty and forceful in equal measures. Towards the end of the set comes the double points combo of Winter Was The Time and Darlin', before the band finish a brilliant performance and turn their attention towards triumphantly riding this wave of goodwill all the way to Sydney and beyond.

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