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Live Review: Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Alex Cameron

9 December 2015 | 1:34 pm | Tom Hersey

"It's one of those rare nights — the crowd is seeing the right band at the right venue on the back of the right album, everything has come together."

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There's a great lot of debate about tonight's big gigs: Father John Misty or Unknown Mortal Orchestra? From the enthusiasm pervading The Triffid's beer garden, the folks who pick Unknown Mortal Orchestra don't seem to be facing any existential quandaries about the wider implications of their decision. They just seem to be sinking beers and talking excitedly about the prospect of the bouncy psych-pop cuts from Multi-Love. But before Unknown Mortal Orchestra do their thing, Seekae frontman Alex Cameron has a go at the excitable audience. It's an arresting performance too, one where you're compelled to try and make sense of all the contradictions your eyes and ears are taking in at once. Cameron does a Nick Cave meets Miami Vice thing where gothic baritones feature right alongside yacht rock saxophones. It's an unusual combination, and it's made even more curious by the way he moves across the stage, singing his super jazzy murder ballads with hands cast out like a sorcerer.

This reviewer could not tell you about the presumably religious fervour witnessed at a Taylor Swift concert, but the overwhelming jubilance among the crowd in The Triffid when Unknown Mortal Orchestra take to the stage feels like it might be a similar mania. 

Fair dues too; Multi-Love is a top-rate pop album that offers up the rare promise of as much style as substance, and the crowd can't wait to hear it live. It's one of those rare nights — the crowd is seeing the right band at the right venue on the back of the right album, everything has come together and that's informing the ebullient mood. The Triffid swells with elation as Ruban Neilson's dulcet, ethereal voice floats over Can't Keep Checking My Phone and Like Acid Rain. The record's stylistic diversions come together superbly tonight; whether it's soulful R&B or the dreamy strains of psychedelia, the crowd does not lose a step. They're joyously dancing to everything UMO throw their way. But then the band drops the title track from Multi-Love and everything kicks up to an even higher gear — the gyrations get even more carefree and heartfelt, the screams of appreciation enter that grating register. It's the perfect song to finish the night on, and leaves the elated crowd streaming out of The Triffid feeling sorry for anyone who would choose some religious guy over a night of pure UMO bliss.