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Live Review: Oh Mercy, Rolls Bayce, Machine Age

7 September 2015 | 2:18 pm | Roshan Clerke

"The live stage banter is almost equally as good a reason to come to Oh Mercy shows as the music."

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It's dark and empty upstairs at the Woolly Mammoth this evening. Brisbane-producer and singer-songwriter Adrian Mauro is performing as Machine Age to a small but appreciative crowd, wearing a green jacket with the collar raised defensively high. Layering ambient guitar effects, he builds the sounds until the room is enveloped in his atmospheric embrace. His lonely voice aches like a country singer as he moans through All I Ever Wanted and Chivalry, twitching in time to the melancholy rhythms.

Rolls Bayce are the next act on stage tonight, the three-piece consisting of the flotsam and jetsam of other Brisbane bands from the past and present. "Tried to be on my own," frontman Dean McGrath laments on the infectious opening song. The growing crowd are beginning to get down to his catchy catharsis as the group channel a '70s psych-rock sound, churning through the cyclic grooves of Arrows and Don't Get Me Wrong. Their seven-minute closer is a carbon-copy Tame Impala soundalike, although no one seems to be complaining.

There's rapturous applause as Alex Gow and his current six-piece incarnation of Oh Mercy walk on the stage. While the sequined jacket from his Deep Heat tour days has been laid to rest, there's a hint of its playfulness left in the golden guitar strap Gow wears over a black patterned shirt. The band have an excellent back catalogue of indie-pop hits to draw from, with his latest album providing the opening I Don't Really Want To Know and Sandy. The wry wit in his writing comes through on the latter track, lending a sense of self-awareness to the song that Gow's only recently began to explore. Stay, Please Stay and My Man reach back into his previous recordings and receive a warm welcome from the crowd.

The live stage banter is almost equally as good a reason to come to Oh Mercy shows as the music, and tonight is no exception. Dedicating Iron Cross to anyone who's fallen for a man's priestly thighs and confessing his desire to be Shannon Noel before Let Me Be Him, Gow is at his ever-articulate best. He switches in and out of a falsetto during a shaky performance of Drums, before the band leave him alone on the stage for an intimate performance of Lady Eucalyptus. It drags a little in contrast to the rest of the set as the younger crowd members grow restless, but it's not long before Can't You Hear My Body (Calling Out To You) and Without You sweep them away again. Small clouds of impassioned spittle fly from his mouth during a blistering cover of Leonard Cohen's One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong, before he invites the Rolls Bayce members back on stage for the celebratory closer, Deep Heat.

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