Bald Faced Stag, Sydney NSW
26th August, 2016
Supported by Saralisse and Lycanthia
It’s such a treat when shows offer you a wide range of bands and sounds that ultimately complement each other, making the overall experience that much more expansive and grand. This was exactly the case Friday night at the Stag, with every band bringing something new to the floor, layering upon the previous performances like a well crafted pastry.
The foundation of the night was Wollongong based quartet Saralisse. One could not describe them as overly energetic, but they are undoubtedly overflowing with personality and entertainment, with the bassist, Girthlord (not joking, that’s his name) punctuating every riff and solo with one quirk or another. Despite all this brilliance, the one thing that outshone the rest, was the vocal performance. Often a mixture of the guitarists and bassist, the deep operatic baritones are quite outstanding, even more so when laid next to the Swallow the Sun-esque screams that issued forth from one of the guitarists. With a sound that seemed to be a mixture of Be’Lakor and Falkebach, one cannot go wrong in seeing this young band live, no matter your musical preferences.
Building on the strong base that Saralisse laid down, Sydney based doom/death outfit Lycanthia took to the stage. The first thing I noticed was that they had a violinist, which is the most metal fucking thing ever! (Ne Obliviscaris, case closed). As the first song was being played, I couldn’t help but think that vocal performances were the focus of the night, as Megan Tassaker’s lovely, soothing voice was layered between the harsh, gravelly growls of the bassist, creating such a wondrous contrast that I couldn’t help but be amazed. Every element of Lycanthia’s music meshes perfectly with its counterpart; the violin and the keys creating a foreboding sense of misery whilst the guitars and drums play their roles to perfection. Lycanthia are a jigsaw of the most complex kind, yet manage to seamlessly fit each piece into place.
Diverging from the harsh vocals, but not the vocal wonderment that was the theme of of the night, Anna Murphy was up next, emerging from the heavy pall of smoke that engulfed the stage, fellow bandmates Ivo Henzi, Merlin Sutter and Rafi Kirder appearing as vague shapes in the haze. After the first song, a short introduction to the next, ‘Cellar Darling’, let the crowd see how sincere and grateful Murphy was to be in front of such a crowd and showing off her solo material. However, her self ascribed awkwardness showed no signs during her performances, her vocal styling coming through as angelic, confident and powerful as they have ever been.
New single ‘Mayday’, recently written by Murphy was a huge crowd pleaser and marked the transition between the Cellar Darling material and into an acoustic set of previous Eluveitie tracks. Sutter vacated the drum kit and took up the cajón (box drum thing) next to Murphy, giving the acoustic ‘A Rose for Epona’ and ‘Voveso in Mori’ such a feeling of communal closeness that I wanted to just hug my neighbour and sit on the floor.
Anna Murphy took the night to a personal place; a place of emotions and honesty, which couldn’t have been more appreciated. These new steps for Murphy seem to bring her immense joy, and I can only wish for its perpetuity and her future success.