Live Review: Stonefield, Immigrant Union

8 March 2016 | 12:16 pm | Tobias Handke

"Led Zeppelin guitar riffs and thick Black Sabbath bass lines provide the foundation for the sisters' The Beach Boys-level harmonies."

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It's easy to understand why Immigrant Union are one of Melbourne's best local acts. The brainchild of Bob Harrow and Brent DeBoer (drummer for the The Dandy Warhols), the breezy five-piece captures old-fashioned Americana with their alt-country meets psych-folk tales. Harrow and DeBoer share vocal duties, alternating between songs, with DeBoer's soothing American delivery edging Harrow's hefty Australian drawl. The harmonies are glorious live and The Doors-like keyboard wizardry of Peter Lubulwa adds layers to their cross-genre sound. Many of the tracks evolve into extended bluesy jams or creep towards bluegrass territory with the use of harmonica. DeBoer's eye-catching afro is still firmly in place as the set ends to gracious applause.  

Gearing up for a mini-American tour, including a stop at SXSW, Stonefield dust off their instruments for this last minute warm-up gig. Seeming excited to be back in front of a packed-but-somewhat sombre crowd, the Findlay sisters, along with live drummer Andrew Braidner, kick things off with their customary opening jam session leading into the groovy Strange Eyes. This may be a performance used to tweak their live show, but Stonefield are running at 100%, rocking out with the enthusiasm of kids who've drunk too much red cordial.

The successors to Wolfmother's ever-diminishing Aussie rock crown, Stonefield are the definition of classic rock. Led Zeppelin guitar riffs and thick Black Sabbath bass lines provide the foundation for the sisters' Beach Boys-level harmonies during Love You Deserve. While easy to decipher, Stonefield's influences never obscure the band's own musical direction, with Amy Findlay's powerfully emotive voice the lynchpin. Confident and boisterous, she sings without fear, her voice reverberating around the intimate venue.

Informing the hot and sweaty crowd that work on album number two is well underway, Stonefield offer up some new material, previewing two tracks that don't stray far from the sound they've mastered over the years. "We're going to play a few old ones now," Findlay says, finally receiving cheers from the boozy masses. Tackling the sticks, she showcases her tremendous individual talent not only as a singer but also a capable drummer, leading the band through the head-thrashing Black Water Rising and fan favourite Through The Clover.

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Back front-and-centre, Findlay parades around like a shaman, shaking her tambourine as she wails into the microphone, her sisters bopping along beside her. The crowd's finally woken from their slumber, but it's too late as rock'n'roll anthem Put Your Curse On Me signals Stonefield's last hurrah before exiting for overseas adventures.