Live Review: Perry Keyes, Mark Snarski - Flying Saucer Club

26 June 2014 | 9:43 am | Jeff Jenkins

Perry Keyes previews tracks from his forthcoming album Sunnyholt at the Flying Saucer Club.

Support act Mark Snarski apologises to the crowd. Sipping from his Coles bottled water, he confesses, “This is the first time I've ever brought water onto the stage – the rider has already run out.” A gentleman at the bar kindly comes to the party, buying Snarski a gin and tonic. No need to apologise for his performance: Snarski's marvellously melancholic and mournful voice brings the right amount of menace and melodrama to a compelling set. “I wrote this song for Elvis,” he explains, introducing a song about willow trees. “Only problem was he died 15 years before I wrote it.” Here's hoping Snarski spends more time in Melbourne.
Tonight is also a Melbourne return for Perry Keyes, “the Sydney Springsteen”, who hasn't paid us a visit since 2010. This is only his second gig in 18 months. “I'm dipping my big toe back into the cesspool of showbiz,” he smiles before introducing a new song called Raymond John Denning. Whereas Snarski's set has a sense of theatre, Keyes' songs are rooted in real-life Redfern. Melburnians might not be familiar with his locales and characters, but they can relate to his dark tales, where “growing up can make you sad” and “falling backwards is easy”. There are not many happy endings in Keyes' songs. “Here's another song about bad parenting,” he notes wryly, launching into 1982 from his most recent album, Johnny Ray's Downtown. He dedicates Will You Shine? to his own mum, explaining, “I think every songwriter should write at least one song for his mother. If you have ten or 11, then that might be a problem.”
Perched atop a stool, wearing a blue baseball cap, Keyes previews tracks from his forthcoming album, Sunnyholt. The songs are epic but intimate, beautifully brought to life by a stellar band, featuring a group of multi-instrumentalists, including bass player and producer Grant Shanahan and drummer Lloyd G, who also provide some sweet, soulful backing vocals.
Perry Keyes might not be a household name, but every visit to the bar brings another encounter with a fine Australian songwriter. There's Missy Higgins! There's Steve Hoy! There's Greg Macainsh! They know how great Keyes is. This week we farewelled the legendary Jim Keays and we welcome Perry Keyes back to Melbourne. A legend in the making.