Live Review: Regular John

24 September 2012 | 11:32 pm | Bonnie Neville

Their performance is sans bravado or wank and they play hard, however shy the crowd. They are furiously good.

Sydney's purveyors of stoner-psych rock Regular John are at the Toff to release their sophomore album Strange Flowers to a sparse yet noise-hungry Melbourne crowd. This band must be legit. Having shared a stage with Monster Magnet and Motörhead, one would imagine Regular John have to be furiously good at making a racket to get down, rock out and tour alongside said heavyweights.

While bands Low Tide and Whipped Cream Chargers do a stellar job on support duties, the crowd appears calm, collected and in need of a violent shake down. Four intriguing individuals take to the art deco stage, their aesthetic borrowing from the '70s through to the '90s. Together they look natural: a mess of curls, black leather boots, paisley, tight jeans and a quiff. Honourable mention goes to the drummer's wife beater and vintage cap. Lead vocalist Ryan Adamson finds his way to a mic centre stage beside a promising rack cradling guitars, keys and pedals aplenty. All necessary weapons for any average Joe wanting to pump out a psychedelic haze of audio fodder to sate stoners, dreamers and teens nostalgic for a musical genre that was revolutionary before they were born.

A rainbow strap hoists a guitar upon his slight frame and Adamson makes a succinct introduction, stating their band name “Regular John”, before they launch into the steady sweet grind of Strange Flower followed by Sky Burial. Michael Hutchence incarnate/bassist/vocalist Caleb Gorman is a southpaw, caressing and then thrashing his guitar with his left hand, whilst drumming with his right foot in symbiosis. Adamson swaps guitars, saddling into one of baby blue hue.

New songs are unveiled like a snake shedding well-worn skin for slick, unblemished scales. Material from their latest album proves to be the well-crafted armour upon Regular John's vulnerable meat as they work their way deeper into the set. Adamson thanks the supporting bands and the audience for “putting down the bong” or whatever it is they fancy, to check them out. He announces their current single Slume, which they play with a sleepy sensuality while ample guitars give it guts. After he begins to introduce a song from their debut album The Peaceful Atom Is A Bomb, Adamson admits he is confused, despite having written the setlist himself. “How do you explain that?” a voice asks. “Law of averages,” quips Gorman.

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They move onto San Isidore before Adamson explains it's now time for fun. And that it is. The guitarist immediately sinks into the gyrating bluesy riff of Fractals. The drummer provides a fierce, steady heartbeat and the crowd inches closer. Adamson's vocals are begging, dripping with conviction and reverb. People, we've reached climax. Hooks and a definitive sound are hard to grasp, though it's The Mars Volta-esque trip that turns people on about bands such as Regular John. You'll desire to see where they lead you, ride their wave beside them and smoke whatever the hell it is they've been smoking. Adamson finishes crooning Letters In Braille whispering the mantra, “It's Insaaane. Winding up, Gorman takes over vocals here and there, the guitarist bashes on some keys tucked over to the side of stage while the drummer keeps up doing what he does best. Adamson declares a “sexy” song to finish the intimate, ignited set.

Regular John are threadbare, kinetic and explorative. Their performance is sans bravado or wank and they play hard, however shy the crowd. They are furiously good.