Being a non-Brisbanite, this was my first Troubadour experience and I was keen to check out the well-known venue for myself.


The room gives a great first impression, with ambient lighting, rich red paintwork adorned with various kitsch items and a giant autumnal photographic scene. The long, narrow room is lined with ample couches to seat the 70 or so people who remained in Brisbane following the exodus to places more coastal which happens at Christmastime.


The punters were mostly seated on couches or cross-legged on the floor, thus it felt more like a performance in someone's loungeroom than a gig. Very cruisy, very Brisbane.


The only thing lacking was some decent stage lighting. The spot where the drummer would be was beautifully lit, with a red downlight and antique lamp, but it was like someone had forgotten about the rest of the band. One solitary white spotlight aimed at stomach level was all that was offered to distinguish the performers from the shadows. Seriously this was some of the worst lighting I have ever seen at a gig. Ever. Oh, and the air con was on so high that I forgot I was in Brisbane – I thought I was back home in Melbourne in June. Certainly didn't make me drink more beer!!


As we arrived a young man was gently strumming his acoustic guitar and singing along. This young man turned out to be Ross Hope from Brisbane's indie favourites Iron On. I was immediately reminded of The Shins quieter moments, or Postal Service minus the bleeps, so it comes as no surprise to learn that Iron On have indeed supported The Shins. Ross was the perfect opening act, setting the scene as punters arrived, and he delivered some nicely constructed, infectious songs. I began to tire of his voice though and don't think I could listen to it for a whole set. Which is perhaps why Iron On works so well, Ross sharing the vocal duties with Kate Cooper.


The Rational Academy was a nice surprise. Opening in a fuzz of feedback, the trio caught my attention immediately. Meredith McHugh was particularly mesmerising, with a shock of red hair topping her slight, pale frame, a full board of guitar effects pedals, and a sweet, at times surprisingly deep, voice. Benjamin Thompson shares the guitar & vocal roles, and the two intertwining guitars and voices make for some beautiful moments, evoking Minnesota 3-piece Low. The drummer was very ambitious, with great ideas but his execution was at times a little off. And a few times, particularly in the more upbeat numbers, I found myself flailing in the giant hole where the bass should be. Apparently the band will be getting a new drummer and bass player in the near future though, so I will look forward to catching this band again.


Deloris were launching their fourth long player, Ten Lives. The critically acclaimed album contains some catchy pop tunes which I expected to translate well live, and I was not mistaken. The entire set was extremely tight and polished, and there was a good sense of urgency about much of it that kept me interested. Highlights for me were opener Everything Ever with its driving drumbeat, Loup Garou with its fabulous unison vocals and karate-chopped ending, and Down the Mountain with its brilliant melodies blasted out via megaphone. But the set seemed to peak too soon and Fond of Liners, the opener from their debut album, lost me a bit. Almost venturing into prog-rock territory, the track didn't seem to fit into the set at all. After a couple more tunes the band left the stage, leaving frontman Marcus Teague to oblige the punter calling out "play one more!". Honestly I hate these kind of fake encores, when the majority of the audience is sated and ready to go home, but the band come back regardless. It all feels a little forced and pointless. But this one was worth it for the solo performance of Don't Ask Anything. Teague's voice is at its most beautiful sitting comfortably within his lower register, as this simple little folk song allowed. If you closed your eyes you would have sworn it was Ollie Brown (Art of Fighting) singing a Paul Kelly song. Very beautiful. The band came back on for an oldie to finish the night: Happy New Year with its shouty chorus was short and to the point. A fitting ending for my first gig of 007.


Perhaps it was the chill in the room, or the less than spectacular lighting, but the show just didn't quite "zing" for me. Deloris are clearly a talented band, and Teague's deadpan sense of humour filled the spaces between tunes nicely, but I would have hoped for more of a buzz in the air for an album launch. I will have to check them out in their hometown next time to see how they fare with their home crowd – I suspect I might find the zing I was looking for!!

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