!!! @ The Bakery, Perth (31/05/08)

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!!! arrived back to Australia and straight into Perth to kick off the first leg of their Australian tour, that would take in a headline show in Adelaide before heading to the East coast for the We Love Sounds festival tour. The band announced that they would be bringing no less than 10 members down under for the tour, and it left many wondering how they would all fit on to the cozy Bakery stage. The Bakery is one of the most unique venues in Perth and always has an intimate feel to it which sadly some of the larger city venues sadly lack. Decked out in a gold sequined curtain and newly redecorated roof, the mirror ball chandelier has been replaced with coloured light squares, and anticipation was high throughout the sold out crowd.

Opening the night was DJ Rex Monsoon who got the night started with some 80s indie, some Donna Summer disco and some fresher electro tracks that got the night started well. Next up were new up-and-comers RATS who, even though they are less than a year old, seem to be growing in stature across the city rather quickly demonstrated by the high profile support they were providing tonight. Their abrasive brand of electro rock is slowly but surely tightening and fronted by the tireless Petro Vouris, who’s name seems to be absolutely everywhere across Perth these days, the band are continuing to impress.

The Bakery was bulging with punters at about 11 o’clock when the eight members of !!! arrived on stage with as much instrumentation crammed onto stage as physically possible. With all probability that the number was reduced from ten members to eight due to the lack of stage space, the band launched into Yadnus from third LP Myth Takes and quickly followed with the album opener and title track from the same album. With the departure of vocalist/drummer John Pugh to focus on other band Free Blood, replacement Paul Quattro filled the hole with ease as it became easy to see why !!! are considered one of the most exciting live acts anywhere around the world. Their constant instrument hopping never ceased to amaze with horns, synths and percussion filling out the rich jam session tapestry the band wove in and out of.

Front man Nic Offer was a livewire, interacting with the crowd throughout the night with stories and chatting with members of the first few rows. His dance styles were reminiscent of something like Napoleon Dynamite mixed with the Backstreet Boys and it went down a treat. Joining Offer on vocal duties was Shannon Funchess who contributed the female vocals on last year’s hit single Heart of Hearts. Funchess complimented Offer well with a hood at first covering her head before unleashing a blonde mohawk and a fair set of pipes to go with it.

The set list was generally centered around latest album Myth Takes and in a recent interview one member said that the band found it harder to play some of their older material due to the length of the songs and the varied structures. This may have been the reason for the notable exclusion of the bands first hit Me And Giuliani Down By The Schoolyard (A True Story). The set did feature a few tracks from second album Louden Up Now including Pardon My Freedom and Hello? Is This Thing On?. Drawing from polyrhythmic bands like Talking Heads, the 32-limbed monster combines everything from disco bass lines to jazz horn blasts and have shaped their art into a more conventional structure with shorter songs and less instrumental extravagances. Tracks from Myth Takes seemed to really be the crowd favourites with All My Heroes Are Weirdos, and Must Be the Moon and Heart of Hearts closing out the show. There was unfortunately no encore and it seemed some fans were a little disappointed with the shortish set, but I’m sure no one at the show was disappointed with the level of intensity displayed by all members especially the co-vocalists of Offer and Funchess, who had the difficult task of replacing old vocalist and key-member Pugh.

All in all it was an incredibly memorable night that was evident through the noticeable buzz outside after the gig. East coast fans must be anxiously waiting their turn to have this truly unique band perform in their cities and justifiably so. !!! continue to innovate and provide a real uniqueness that is sadly lacking across so much of live scene of today and I’m sure will be welcomed with open arms whenever they return Australia.

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