Closure In Moscow @ The Civic Hotel, Perth (29/05/10)

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The Chase started things up in decent fashion. Basically some radio friendly indie rock that would sit pretty comfortably next to The Killers or The Police in a nova-no-more-than-two-ads in a row play list, and that’s not a diss. Familiar face Caleb Baker (ex- Elora Danan) pounded

his kit with the utmost enthusiasm, occasionally donning headphones to assist his timing with the barely audible synth samples, sadly lost in the mix.

Phil O’Reilly had a few guitar issues but shrugged them off and continued to deliver some sweet delay drenched lines over the solid no-frills bass chugging of Adam Palermo. Singer Darren Rullo was good in his own right, but barely moved from his mic stand, this being excused as he later explained, it was indeed their first gig. Fair enough. Although his self-confessed “stuff ups” wouldn’t have been noticed if he didn’t draw attention to them and the audience was clearly oblivious to the correct vocal execution of their songs. Given time and more stage experience, they could be put into Perth’s growing category of bands to watch.

Putting together a super group of “Perthonalities” can be fruitful, as Birds Of Tokyo have found. It’s hard not to liken Sleepwalker to the aforementioned but thankfully the similarities end right there. Chock full of well-seasoned Perth musicians, Sleepwalker are the perfect blend of five secret herbs and spices, although the spices aren’t that secret, due to each member being super successful in their own right. Maybe a Captain Planet metaphor is a more apt description… Ex-Crysis drummer Glenn provided the heart, with earthy bass tones from Jarrad Clarke (Celladore, Hope Here Gone), whilst the fiery riffage by James Croy (Hope Here Gone) perfectly complemented the eye-watering emotional leads from guitarist Drew May-Hills (Antistatic) and the amazing wind pipes of George Green (Elora Danan). Whichever way you look at it, Sleepwalker are too fucking good.

From the moment Green persuasively told everyone to take a few steps forward, they held the near full Civic back room at attention for the duration of their set. As might be suggested by the over-the-top metaphors plaguing the last paragraph, it didn’t seem like a first performance. It was tight, entertaining and musically appealing. Finger lickin’ good music, produced with their plentiful powers combined. Punters will be eagerly awaiting a recorded effort.

The night was only young as there was still the head-liner to come, but already a delay pedal effect detox was well in order. Unfortunately Arms Like Branches provided no such solace, and a second pattern began to emerge with the band’s appearance; their ranks also include ex-Elora Danan members. Still they provided an interesting listen, quite different to their predecessor. Isaac Kara’s vocals were still at an all time high (pitch that is) and although he was ever so slightly out of key in parts, as the set bore on he tuned up nicely. Occasionally Kara would add to the standard five piece with some well placed keys, adding another dimension to their progressive indie sound. A song in tribute to Kara’s mother was a particular stand-out, slow, ambient and moody. They capped off a diverse support offering of Perth’s indie/alt/rock talent in good fashion.

So, Closure In Moscow have been likened to The Mars Volta. This is similar to Cog being compared to Tool.

Its pretty cool for an Aussie band to even be considered in the same league as such a ground-breaking act; but being called a blatant rip-off must be more difficult to swallow.

Without any pre-conceived notions, this conclusion was easily drawn during their performance. Progressive song structures, high register vocals harmonised by the guitarist and poly-rhythmic jazzy drum patterns. But wow. Aside from the sweet silver hoodie/cape combo lead singer Chris de Cinque donned, and the distracting out-of-sync laser show, they were pretty much a Mars Volta cover band. Pretty harsh to be making that call, but y’know, it’s hard to ignore the elephant standing in the room, be it African or Indian, Male or Female, or Dumbo, with or without the feather.

Speaking of the light show; it was a bit of a disappointment. It didn’t seem to complement the music at all. Picture all of the overhead lighting rig dimmed and a spastic green laser shooting from stage level to the centre of the roof. Bewildering, to say the least. In terms of the activity on stage, the crowd interaction was minimal, but that was expected, given the genre. de Cinque murmured at one point that he had a tiny penis and gave fans something to chortle about. Guitarists Mansur Zennelli and Michael Barrett were rocking out in their own worlds and it was difficult to see drummer Beau McKee, but rest assured, he was doing a great job.

Musically it was a bit poppier or commercial than The Mars Volta, and it was executed with great precision, with the selection of cuts leaning towards latest offering First Temple. The opening riff to Carry on my Wayward Son by Kansas even made it into one of their tunes, providing a nice contrast.

They gave fans a decent enough show, and followers could argue they don’t need a perfectly synced light show or theatrics to cover the fact that they are a well rehearsed accomplished group. Evidently they have a decent following, but they need to do a lot more to shake the blinding sporting-event-cheque sized tag they’ve been given.

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