1990s, Dardanelles, The Dirty Secrets @ Amplifier Bar, Perth (25/9/2007)

Twas a wet and blustery Tuesday night that the Amplifier Bar played host to the 1990s, with no ‘The’ and no apostrophe, as the now well-known Glaswegians were kicking off their national tour in Perth with support from Dardanelles and locals The Dirty Secrets.

Perth’s very own new wave synth-rock outfit The Dirty Secrets kicked things off to a rather impressively filled Amplifier band room. There was certainly no lack of audience for these up-and-coming Perth boys, and as they opened with new single My Heart is On Fire, it was easy to see why they’ve found themselves on high rotation on Triple J. Vocalist/synther and Napoleon Dynamite lookalike Jarrah McLeary is a formidable presence at the front of the stage, playing keys with one hand, microphone stand in the other and sings like his life depended on it. McLeary’s voice sounds like Julian Casablancas after smoking too many cigarettes and combined with the dirty bass, jagged guitars and booming drums makes for highly addictive listening. Finishing with first single Five Feet of Snow, recently remixed into an electro stomper by Melbourne DJ/producer Miami Horror, The Dirty Secrets’ debut album is sure to be one of the finest coming out of the West this year.

It was always going to be tough following such a solid set from The Dirty Secrets and Dardanelles started a little sluggishly. Opening with Alone is Not, the first track off their debut album Mirror Mirror, the Melbourne boys certainly looked the part, especially bassist Nico in his American Indian animal shirt made so popular by Klaxons. Lead singer and sampler Josh seemed to be in the mood with some interesting dance moves and intricate procedures from his samplers but it was rather unclear what sounds he was actually making. The band started to warm up through Origami Tree, first single and radio regular Footsteps and more tracks from their solid first album. But it wasn’t until the Rapture-sounding new track Mirror Mirror, complete with electro-jam introduction, that we really got to see what Dardanelles were capable of before their set was finished.

1990s stepped on stage to a packed Amplifier and were making the most of the stage with the three of them lined up side by side on the front of the stage. Bucktoothed Jackie McKeown on guitar to the left, Michael McGaughrin on drums in the middle and a new bassist introduced as ‘Donald’, playing his first show after original bassist Jamie left the band “to do something else.”

Opening with You Made Me Like it and following it up with Cult Status and the catchy Arcade Precinct it was clear that these boys knew their stuff and even with a new bassist, they would be tighter than Popeye’s t-shirt. Surf guitars, funky baselines and lots of las, waas and daas, are predominant throughout the set that features most of the tracks from debut album Cookies. McKeown ironically proclaimed that “Australia’s got a pretty good looking audience” before launching into most recent single See You at the Lights, which the crowd loved and a few dance moves appeared on the dance floor. An extended jam in the breakdown of Situation gave the boys a chance to show their chops before they retreated from the stage after about 40 minutes.

The crowd funneled out, unsure whether there was going to be an encore and a large portion had to re-enter the band room when 1990s appeared back on stage. First song in the encore was Enjoy Myself and for the first time in the evening, the band lost some confidence and the result was glaring as the track sounded poor and unrehearsed and was quickly recognised by McKeown who cut the song short and declared “okay, that sucked”, which it certainly did. After another bungled track the boys abandoned the failed encore and bid their farewells and probably wished they hadn’t come back in the first place as it took the gloss off an otherwise very enjoyable performance.