Live Review: The Tea Party, Georgia Fair

23 July 2012 | 11:23 am | Brendan Crabb

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Built on a foundation of low-key harmonies, Sydney duo Georgia Fair's poppy folk wasn't built for such a cavernous room and their attempts to compensate fell rather flat. Although clearly grateful for the opportunity and earning lukewarm applause, twangy guitars and all top end resulted in an overly abrasive, somewhat dull half-hour.

There are reunions rock fans figured would never happen (Refused, At the Drive-In) and others appearing impossible (the original Guns N' Roses lineup anyone?). The Tea Party's reformation exists somewhere else entirely, the outlook bleak a half-decade ago but seeming increasingly inevitable until last year's confirmation. Led by frontman Jeff Martin, strolling on stage with a demeanour cooler than the crowd at a Bondi café and booming in his rich baritone, the Canadian trio was not surprisingly afforded a heroes' welcome. Reports other members (Stuart Chatwood and Jeff Burrows) had been merely going through the motions at recent appearances were negated, their chemistry immediately apparent.

Oozing charisma and swapping guitars like the rest of us change socks, Martin's banter spanned from the band's music as a source of inspiration for procreation to reminders the show was being captured for their first concert film. He even addressed the proverbial white elephant in the room, revealing the reunion was for keeps and a new record may arrive in 2013. This run though was about celebrating their achievements up to this point. The Bazaar, Correspondences and Sister Awake fed into The Edges Of Twilight-heavy theme. A solo rendition of Jeff Buckley's Last Goodbye seamlessly segued into a fully-fledged band version of The Messenger, a stirring Psychopomp was uproariously received and Led Zeppelin's Kashmir directly referenced the band's immeasurable debt to '70s rock. A mid-set acoustic interlude was unfortunately an invitation for many punters to have a loud, lengthy chat among themselves; expect the DVD's mix to be adjusted accordingly.  

While such intricate, textured and Middle Eastern-flourished prog-rock probably wasn't initially intended for such large venues, the wall of sound and clear mix alleviated such concerns. The upside was they still had a couple of genuine arena anthems at their disposal (an All Along the Watchtower-infused Heaven Coming Down, Temptation) to match such conditions. While some have decried the band for allegedly forcing a reformation due to the cash, after two hours-plus it was evident an extended layoff hasn't hurt The Tea Party's potency. Welcome back, lads.