Live Review: Underground Lovers, Andrew McCubbin

26 February 2018 | 11:29 am | Hurb Jephasun

"The local audience left them in no doubt that the 20-year break between visits was far too long."

More Underground Lovers More Underground Lovers

There was a definite buzz of anticipation hanging heavy in the steamy air on arrival at Badlands on Saturday night. With Underground Lovers venturing over from Melbourne to play their first gig in Perth for 20-odd years, it was no surprise to find a healthy crowd filling the beer garden early, eager for the main bandroom door to open.

With the punters steadily filing into the cooler climes of the main room, Andrew McCubbin took to the stage accompanied by Melinda Kay on keys and backing vocals to kick off the evening. Predominantly performing material from their current release, Where Once There Was A Fire, the Melbourne-based duo treated the early-comers to a truly spellbinding performance. With Kay's haunting harmonies weaving effortlessly with McCubbin's deep "Cohen-esque" vocals, matched with his intuitive and at times minimalist guitar playing, the pair created a warm, exhilarating soundscape that washed across their appreciative audience. 

After a brief break, it was time for Underground Lovers to launch into the first of their two sets before a now-packed and expectant crowd who, having been starved of the opportunity to take in a live performance for so many years, instantly warmed to the band. Playing for the most part as a cut-back three-piece of vocalist Vincent Giarrusso, Glenn Bennie on guitar and Maurice Argiro on bass, Underground Lovers pumped out an electronic-focused first set. All Brand New, Rushall Station and Starsigns were highlights, with the thumping beats getting the entire crowd well and truly moving.

Following another quick break, the entire band took to the stage. With Giarrusso now sharing vocal duties with Philippa Nihill, they kicked off with Au Pair from their 2013 album Weekend and definitely seemed to amp things up a notch or ten. With the rhythm section pumping and Bennie's relentless guitar driving them on, the band continued with The Rerun and St Kilda Regret from their latest release, 2017's Staring At You Staring At Me. The performance felt at times like a mass flashback to the band's 1990s heyday with a large portion of the audience lost in the moment, eyes closed and just letting the music take them away to another place. 

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

With such a large back catalogue to delve into, the band's performance had the whole crowd hooked from start to finish. Your Eyes was, of course, one of the standout tracks of the night with Giarrusso in fine vocal form - as were the many punters who couldn't help but join in. The band finished their set and took their leave, but quickly returned for a much-wanted encore and closed out the night with the crowd-favourite Losin' It, which once again had a large swathe of the audience singing along, and Promenade from 1992's Leaves Me Blind.

Underground Lovers certainly brought their A-game to Perth and, in return, the local audience left them in no doubt that the 20-year break between visits was far too long. Judging by the reception the band received tonight, one suspects that they'll return sooner rather than later next time around.