.Australian Music.

Katie Noonan + The Alcohotlicks + Holland @ The Factory Theatre (05.03.11)

I’d never been to the Factory Theatre before, but it turned out to be the perfect venue to see Katie Noonan & The Captains. It was much like a school hall stage; however, instead of toddlers sitting cross-legged in crooked rows upon the floor, the venue was dimly lit and littered with stools with bar tables and rows of chairs.

The gig started with two of the best supporting acts I have ever seen. The first was a band from Brisbane calledHolland. Holland is what I would nominate to be a ‘soft-rock’ band delving into the more melancholy side of producing music. They’re quite mellow and calm, and with the lead vocalist’s perfect pitch control, they definitely make for easy-listening and a peaceful show. You can tell that this four-man band love what they do and really enjoy playing music; they seem to be in their own little world when on stage and it’s quite an honour to watch.

As well as their great interaction, they’re very ‘at peace’ with their instruments; it’s as though they’re just another part of their body, everything comes so naturally. I was very impressed with the level of musical discipline Holland demonstrated in their music. They decorate but don’t over-impose, so at no point is there a monstrous wall of sound rushing at you to digest. One of the things I liked most about Holland was the vocals, they take ‘the road less travelled’; what I mean by this is that instead of being predictable and average, they’re crafted in a way that keeps your ears prickled – they’re something to be understood rather than just listened to. All I can recommend is that you check them out.

The second support band was a Sydney three-beast complexity comically named The Alcohotlicks… this was an interesting set. The first thing that caught my ears was the drumming; it had to be the most intriguing and syncopated drumming I’d heard in a live gig yet. I was trying to follow the line of the music but it kept jumping from tempo to tempo – so eventually I gave up and just enjoyed it.

The drums were obviously leading the whole set and kept everything ‘together’ and the two guitars followed flawlessly in impeccable time; how they did it was beyond me. There was no bass and no vocals, and at times I found myself longing for an ‘oooh’ or an ‘aahhh’ or a ‘yeeeaaahhh’, but no, there was nothing. Their music is very colourful and childish – painting a million and one images in your head all at once. It was confusing at times, however, this is what made it so entertaining; you could never pick where the music was going and you had to really pay attention in order to keep up with it. It was as though each instrument was playing a different song, but each was synced so perfectly with the others that it became one song with three very different parts. For anyone looking for a bit of a challenge, I would highly recommend these guys. They’re masters of complexity.

Katie Noonan & The Captains emerged from backstage to an anticipating audience and instantly ‘wOwed’ them with the first track from their newest LP, ‘Radar’. It didn’t take me long to come to terms with the fact that Katie Noonan & The Captains were a very different band live to their recording, but it took no time at all to adjust.

There is no voice in the world like Katie Noonan’s; it is sharp, crisp, piercingly clear and bright. You want to hear pitch control? Then wrap your ears around Katie – she is a pure vocal freak. And what an amazing woman! Her humility and informal approach to her live show was a breath of fresh air. She performed as herself, just as another human being – not someone who expects admiration or superiority. Her interaction with the audience was very conversational. She explained why and who she’d written her songs for before each track she performed, and this really drew the audience in. Contrary to what I was expecting, it was a very intimate live show.

What a great band. All four of them work so well together, I love seeing people having huge amounts of fun playing music, and Katie Noonan & The Captains were having so much fun. It was impossible to sit still; I just wanted to ‘bop’. Her set list included songs like ‘Cotton Wool’, ‘Time’, ‘Space Between’, ‘Special One’, ‘Emperor’s Box’, ‘Radar’ and ‘Never Know Your Luck’ – so, pretty much every song from the latest album. She also had a couple of jam sessions on stage with the boys from The Alcohotlicks – which was completely off-the-chain.

This gig was the closest I’ve seen to being a ‘perfect gig’. The groove was constant throughout the whole show; they all performed with incredible swag and at no point in time was I even slightly bored, the whole show was incredible. Katie even came out after the gig to have drinks with people; from which I scored a signed vinyl LP, a photo, and a hug. So fantastic. I’m giving this gig a 9.5/10. I loved it.

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