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Live Review: The War On Drugs, Twerps

10 December 2014 | 1:14 pm | Guido Farnell

A shaky start, but The War On Drugs recover to break Melbourne's hearts - in a good way - at 170 Russell.

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Local outfit Twerps have already begun to entertain the masses at tonight’s much-anticipated, sold-out show.

This quartet is an unassuming bunch who works a classic guitars, drums and bass combination to good effect. They play it simple and somewhat imperfect without a hint of affectation. The odd bum note or not quite keeping it in key add to their rough charm, but when they get it right they toss some jagged pop nuggets our way. Twerps seemed to go quiet for quite a long time after touring to promote their self-titled debut. It’s great to see them back in fine form as they play tunes from their most recent Underlay EP.

After releasing what many would herald one of the albums of the year, Lost In The Dream, it’s great to see regular visitors to our shores The War On Drugs in town and showcasing at three Meredith sideshows.

It’s unclear whether the band wanted to start the gig with a bang or if the man at the desk got it all wrong, but when The War On Drugs start up with Burning the drums and bass are so deafeningly and painfully loud that all else is smothered and lost. Things don’t improve as they work their way through Arms Like Boulders and the wistful Under The Pressure. It’s not until they get to the reflective In Reverse that everything starts to come together as it should.

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The hazy guitars with that world weary, troubadour-ish country vibe become the focus of our attention. Adam Granduciel is no longer struggling to be heard in the mix and it’s instantly obvious why he is so often compared to Dylan. Having seen Dylan earlier this year, it’s apparent that Granduciel is channelling a Dylan that not even Dylan can deliver anymore. An Ocean In Between The Waves starts with a drum machine and slowly turns into an excuse for Granduciel to indulge in some pretty flash guitar riffery that’s mighty impressive. All the tunes on their latest album so beautifully lend themselves to extended jams. Jon Natchez’ saxophone shies away from predictable solos to give us exquisite mellow abstraction. The introspective Disappearing with its moody chords and swirling synthesisers is an absolute highlight.

The delicate beauty of their music framed in more robust, but compelling, arrangements delivers an exhilarating live experience. A generous round of encores features the more upbeat Baby Missiles and Your Love Is Calling My Name but it’s a heartfelt rendition of Suffering and the title track from Lost In The Dream that steals and breaks hearts before the show’s over. The War On Drugs look set to take Melbourne by storm this week.