Live Review: The Tea Party, Dallas Frasca

21 July 2012 | 9:25 am | Jake Sun

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Melbourne's Dallas Frasca opens the night with a presence that is hard to ignore. And it's not just the bulky red-dreadlocks that do it. No, this is unmistakably a frontwoman who is in command as she steers her band through the solid blend of roots and rock that is recent single, All My Love. Her booming voice and infectious phrasings work wonders in winning over the uninitiated, and ultimately the set seems to provide a fitting complement to the evening's hosts.  

With the Eastern spirit of Samsara rising up through the PA, The Tea Party take the stage to a rapturous response that is fuelled by seven years of anticipation. A quick rewind to their near beginnings sees them open with an expanded version of The River, and through its tremendous effect it is evident that these three musicians are transitioning smoothly back into their groove. The rhythm section of Stuart Chatwood and Jeff Burrows provide Jeff Martin with an immensity of power through rockers The Bazaar and Lullaby, however it is their diverse ability on songs like Psychopomp and Correspondence that allows the frontman to push the live limits in ways he hasn't done since the last stand of this great band.

While Martin's playing is in as fine form as ever, he doesn't allow his voice to open up to its full potential until the impassioned lines of Jeff Buckley's Last Goodbye escape through a fragile utterance that falls gently into the commanding grip of The Messenger. Fire In The Head goes off like one more detonation before a tag team of stringed instruments embark on the vast explorations that are The Badger, Shadows On The Mountainside and Sun Going Down. With these songs acting as an excursive divination, the live set reveals its great dynamic. The Tea Party are at home clambering through the collective memories of music. And they continue to reiterate this point, with the Dead Can Dance-inspired Zahira segueing into Halcyon Days and Save Me, and Jimi Hendrix's incendiary rework of Dylan's All Along the Watchtower into Heavens Coming Down. With the crowd lending their collective voice to owned and borrowed alike, the mood is truly elevated up until the final moments of Release and Temptation.

As if two hours weren't already enough the band returns for celebratory renditions of Winter Solstice, Paint It Black and Sister Awake, before taking their final bow of gratitude. Yes, The Tea Party are back! And after a monster show like this one, hopefully they're here to stay...

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