If I were to have an affair with a band, it would be with Blonde Redhead. Ever since Misery Is A Butterfly, I jumped on the small, cult bandwagon and haven’t gotten off since. The music Blonde Redhead has given me, has marked some momentous occasions in my life even to this day – this is a band with personal significance and this show at the Opera House wasn’t going to be any different.
The Verlaines kicked proceedings off with promising alternative songs – they were pretty much New Zealand’s answer to Pavement, complete with sweet little guitar solos, clean yet crunchy riffs combined with angular melodies and downbeat lyrics. It was a sound and atmosphere more suited to a pub with a beer in one hand. The mutual relationship between The Verlaines and Blonde Redhead is that they’ve both been in this industry for over 2 decades now.
The Opera House can be a little overwhelming, especially when all the seats aren’t filled but that wasn’t the least of Blonde Redhead’s concerns. Song after song the Brooklyn trio mesmerized and blew the audience away pitted against a striking backdrop of photographic umbrellas and minimal vintage light bulbs, flickering their little tungsten hearts away.
The hum and flicker of the lights were a sublime way to open their set and subtly launch into “Black Guitar”. The trio now accompanied with a keys/synth player seemed like doing so was the only option to recreate songs off Penny Sparkle in a live setting but did it work? Yeah it did … only if the Opera House in all of it’s acoustic glory can figure out a new configuration for bass-heavy songs. Good thing Blonde Redhead had a back catalogue dating as far back as ‘93. The implication of which (and one would hope) was a set not entirely devoted to their latest release. Despite the set being the live realisation of Penny Sparkle, the Pace twins with an under-the-weather Kazu Makino still threw in the favourites from 23. They did gave 110% in energy, atmosphere and skill – it was truly worthy of the standing ovation and the eager (but unsuccessful) request for a second encore.
Spring and by Summer Fall
Will There be Stars
Not Getting There
Expect great things from Blonde Redhead this Sunday at Laneway, Sydney.
Photos by Daniel Boud.