Live Review: Tora, Alta, The Lovely Days

16 April 2014 | 1:47 pm | Izzy Tolhurst

If the ambient melodies aren’t enough, Tora’s vocal mastery keeps their audience deeply engaged.

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First to warm up for Byron Bay five-piece Tora is The Lovely Days, a four-piece who hail from the same trouble-free beach town but have been “jus chillin in melbs” of late (according to their Facebook). Their sound is warm and reminiscent of the '60s and The Lovely Days excite a large and enthusiastic dancefloor, which is impressive for a support act.

Next up, Melbourne duo Alta make the most of the modest Evelyn Hotel stage with transforming visuals spreading across several cubes stacked in an entrancing L-shape under the DJ booth. Sweating like she's “doing fucking bikram yoga, yo!” talented vocalist Hannah Lesser flexes her extraordinary range and lung capacity during the set. Her talent is matched by producer Julius Dowson's original arrangements. Closing with the striking, recurring “Tell me” lyrics, Alta seem closely aligned, sonically, with fellow Melbourne producer Oscar Key Sung, but would also fit snugly alongside an act such as Darkside.

When Tora take to the stage, it's clear there is unique solidarity between the band. They claim their moniker is derived from the Greek word for now and this is refreshingly true of their sound and presence. Early on there is a sense of being part of something rare and inimitable. This gig is one of four east coast shows to mark the release of Tora's These Eyes single. Harmonies are often complex, but always flawless throughout and each note is struck with conviction. They open with an instrumental piece Get Like It (from their self-titled EP of 2013) and the second track Offering solidifies the fact that this set will be a tight one. A sixth member joins Tora onstage from the beginning of their set, assisting with rhythms on a drum pad. However his presence is more significantly noted when he freestyles throughout the end of Future Man, an addition that's welcomed warmly by the crowd.

An encore is called for, and, without any unnecessary fanfare, Tora return. From beginning to end, the shared vocals of Toby Tunis, Jai Piccone and Jo Loewenthal are truly moving and spectacular to watch. If the ambient melodies aren't enough, Tora's vocal mastery keeps their audience deeply engaged.

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