Tea Party not that lo fi at the Hi Fi

tea party band jeff stuart chatwood jeff martin jeff burrows

Hopes for an insight into the Tea Party‘s new album, currently being recorded, at last night’s gig at the Hi Fi bar in Melbourne were dashed. What the three-piece did reveal was a powerful set built on Jeff Martin’s acoustic guitars, with Jeff Burrows and Stuart Chatwood laying down their always dependable rhythm groove.

Martin’s voice was showing the signs of previous gigs in Sydney and Brisbane and, presumably, the recording process, but the occasional threadbare note added to the emotion of staples such as ‘Requiem’ and ‘Messenger’, and the deeply personal ‘Oceans’. With his voice rasping, Martin rose to an audience member’s suggestion and sung the introductory note to ‘Soul Breaking’, to much applause.

The Hi Fi’s no-frills basement stage offered a great view, illuminating Burrows’ intensity and industry behind the kit.

The band, coming off their reunion tour last year after a hiatus of six years, were in full command, playing songs from pretty much all their albums for 90 minutes or so, with ‘Save Me’, ‘The Bazaar’ and ‘Walking Wounded’ among the crowd favourites. A (poorly remembered) medley included instrumental the ‘Badger’ and ‘Midsummer Day’. A rousing ‘Sister Awake’ ended the set, and the trio clearly enjoyed belting out an electric, sadly distorted ‘Overload’ for the encore.

Based on the killer tour last year and last night’s comfortable and confident outing, the stage seems set for the Tea Party to fulfil Martin’s promise that the new album is going to be something special. Meanwhile, we take heart from his parting promise that they’ll be seeing us soon — a new album demands a tour!

Greetings from Ballaratia

gargoyles at the front door

Five weeks or thereabouts since this blog troubled the interwebs. I guess moving home and waiting … and waiting … for the internet to be connected will do that.

So what’s happened since the boxes went into the truck and came out the other side, here in steamy Ballarat, in the shade of a hill I’ve christened Wendouree Tor?

Well, my pals The Isle have released a funky little ep, Moment, offering a nice mix of electro stylings. Bowie’s new album, The Next Day, ain’t half bad if the streaming’s anything to judge by. How to Destroy Angels have released their first album, Welcome Oblivion, and it’s a cruisy end to the world if ever there was one.

We saw Einstuerzende Neubauten mix-cartons, and it was a crack, seeing them producing all those sounds from what looked like an abandoned dairy farm on the Palace’s stage. I really dig their gentler stuff, but it’s quite amazing how they manage to make music out of all the rattling and banging. And singer Blixa has an amazing voice.

Tonight, we anticipate hearing new Tea Party material. Oh gosh!

Elsewhere, Aurealis magazine is releasing its duo series with publisher Dirk Strasser and the inimitable Jack Dann leading off. The Aurealis Awards date has been announced — May 18 — with a record field under consideration. Should be a hoot. And the Ditmars and Chronos awards are now open for nominations.

Very pleasing to see the Queensland Literary Awards hitting their stride, too, attracting serious financial support and — gasp! — the State Government funding charmingly parochial fellowships. This from the dudes who axed the awards as their first act in power. Interestingly, a Queensland writer was awarded a life achievement by the Australia Council late last year: Herb Wharton got his start by entering the David Unaipon Award, one of those cancelled by the government and saved by the new awards. Did the AC draw attention to this? You betcha. Because you can’t tell someone like Premier Campbell Newman they’ve acted like a twat enough.

But what about The (other) Rat? There are more stars here and far less buses than in the city. We’ve found the Bunnings and the supermarket and a half-decent chipper and have been very pleased indeed to be in the delivery zone of Pizza Capers (bourbon chicken FTW!). The Courier lands on the front lawn each morning and we scavenge restaurants and events and community groups and places of interest and stick them on the fridge. One day, their time will come.

But first, there’s the last of the boxes, the matter of central heating (winter, it is coming…), acclimatising to the commute and starting to think it might be time to resume the edit of the work in progress. And then there’s that overgrown back yard …