Live Review: Lee Ranaldo, The Laurels

26 October 2012 | 9:03 am | Dominique Wall

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Sydney four-piece The Laurels apparently “create luscious, complex and dangerous psychedelic shoegaze bliss”. Well, they got the shoegaze part correct, but all evidence of luscious, complex and dangerous psychedelic bliss seems to be missing from tonight's set. This is a band that wears their influences on their sleeves, most notably, My Bloody Valentine. However, that's where the comparison ends, as The Laurels fail to work any dynamism into the overwhelming mess of guitar effects that end up making each song sound just like the other. While one song on its own isn't actually bad, a whole set of the same thing is very tiresome.

As Lee Ranaldo and his band (including Steve Shelley and Melbourne multi-instrumentalist JP Shilo) take to the stage, it's quite obvious that we're not dealing with an egoist. For a start, he's smiling and, second of all, he starts his set by actually saying hello and thanking everyone for coming. For someone of Ranaldo's standing, second thought would not be given had he not even acknowledged us, but the fact that he has done so before his first song is testament to the fact that he doesn't have to try to be cool – he just is. He introduces his first song, the wonderful Off The Wall, as “a declaration of self, take me as I am”, which is fitting, because that's just how he is presenting himself and how we are receiving him. His low-key nature continues as he says he'll “start with a couple of pop ditties”, but what may be just “ditties” to Ranaldo are actually wonderfully crafted pop tunes that are destined to become classics. Angles is evidence of this, as is Tomorrow Never Comes, which he touchingly dedicates to Rowland S Howard, whose 53rd birthday it would have been today.

While most of the songs included in tonight's set are lifted from Ranaldo's latest album, Between The Times And The Tides – including Xtina As I Knew Her, Hammer Blows, Shouts and the very beautiful Stranded – we're also treated to a couple of covers including Revolution Blues, which Ranaldo says is “for St Neil”, Thank You For Sending Me An Angel Talking Heads and the Ranaldo-penned Sonic Youth track, Genetic. Ranaldo also regales us with stories in between songs, basically spoiling us for every band we'll see from here on in. Ranaldo is definitely a step above the average performer.