Darling James @ The Old Bar, Melbourne (Wed 3 Jun 2015)
Tonight, Darling James are launching their debut single ‘Ultimatum Talk’ at The Old Bar. It’s Wednesday night in Melbourne, on one of the coldest nights we’ve had this year. My dashboard thermometer says it’s 4 degrees outside, and when I get out of the car at the pub, a chilly wind hits me, really making me wonder why the hell I left my heated house on a night like this.
This was my first pub gig since becoming a dad, so I ventured out as late as possible to minimise time away from sleep. Consequently I missed The Mysterious String Theories.
I did however arrive just as Half/Cut took the stage. I’d really like to see this band in a much bigger room. Musically they had the ability to create luscious soundscapes, not unlike a slightly heavier and groovier Portishead or Massive Attack, with a vocalist taking cues from everyone from Alanis Morissette to Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries. There were definitely parts that felt far too busy for what I think the band were trying to project, but again, I think that playing such a small room really didn’t help with that.
The number of Brisbane-ites living in Melbourne is quite staggering, and tonight many emerged from cold woodwork of Melbourne winter to come and see one of their own. So tonight wasn’t just seeing a gig- it was catching up with a bunch of old mates that I never see enough of.
I’ve known James for years. Various bands we’ve been in over the years have played together more times that I can count, and we’ve also done occasional session work together. He’s a talented bastard- great vocalist and an excellent bass player. James was one of the songwriters in The Boat People, but, as far as I’m aware, Darling James is his first outing as principal songwriter.
When Darling James hit the stage promptly at 10:30, everyone emerged from the nooks and crannies of The Old Bar to be in the main room, making it quite cozy and warm. It was a fantastic turnout for such a shitty Melbourne week night.
The last, and only time I’d seen Darling James was about 18 months ago when they did a residency at The Edinburgh Castle Hotel, my local pub. A few of the songs from those shows were in tonights set, but there were a lot of new material as well.
I remember hearing Crowded House and The Police influences at those Ed shows. Since then, the depth in song-writing and arrangements has grown considerably, with a much more unique sounding band than I saw at the local. It’s still a distinctly ‘indie commercial’ sound, which is a favourite of mine. Musical arrangements with a tip of the hat to bands like The National, Mogwai, and maybe a little Gomez as well.
Tonight was a great show, and I have no doubt that Darling James will be around for many years to come, and playing much bigger venues than The Old Bar.
I’m glad I ventured out of the house for this, and here’s hoping a debut album isn’t too far away.
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