Red Jezebel @ The Rosemount Hotel, Perth 13/05/11

It was a bittersweet night for fans of Perth heavyweights Red Jezebel who turned up for both a good time and to support the band’s last gig with bass player Mark ‘Cruicky’ Cruickshank.

Despite the large, excitable mass of people outside mostly made up of ravers, zombie ravers and walking pop culture references a very modest crowd littered the Rosemount as American Novelist very discreetly began their country-infused set of chilled-out indie pop tunes. Despite being “20 per cent less American” by missing a member they seemed to find their feet by swapping one of the two guitars for a bass halfway through their set. As the songs began to pick up in both intensity and volume, the audience forgot that they were actually missing a fellow Novelist. Meike Harman’s soulful voice continued to impress as the cleverly crafted set structure powered through pleasant harmonies and a cover of Stevie Nicks’ Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around. As their last song came to a close, you couldn’t help feeling that everyone who stayed outside had missed out on something very special.

The crowd stayed modest for Kill Teen Angst who, after the calm sounds of American Novelist, packed a serious punch to the eardrums. In fact, the difference was so stark it took a few moments to readjust and become used to the sudden wall of sound. Simply, Kill Teen Angst is one of those bands that are enjoyed much more live than on a CD. This musically tight foursome had so much energy it seemed as though they were playing to a larger audience in a larger venue. Scott Tomlinson’s vocals are unique, occasionally having a likeness to the gruffness of Tim McIlrath’s ( Rise Against ) ‘loud’ voice. Tomlinson finally asked what everyone was thinking and officially began the underlying joke of the night: “So does anyone know what’s going on with all the ravers? Everyday I’m shufflin’…(chuckle)”. As their set rocketed along a few punters began to nod their head furiously to the catchy hooks of Reasons and an evident favourite, The World or Nothing. The impressive guitar work added layers to music that could so easily be neglected in favour of simplicity. Musically, each song had its differences and merit, but after listening to an entire set the vocals began to sound similar to the last song they played.

Effortlessly cool, slightly awkward and bearing an unbelievable likeness to physics students, Umpire lured the dancers to the floor with smooth, refreshing, indie pop. Beginning on the “highest notch” they’ve got, as they told one eager punter, they played a few interesting tunes before bringing the mood down with a haunting but catchy slow song. Any pitchiness from Geoff Symons and small musical mistakes as he and the band warmed up were soon forgotten with hooks so catchy it was nearly impossible for anyone to sit completely still. This was particularly the case with Streamers, in which case the dancers bounded back to the dance floor and proved the song a definite highlight. Seamlessly transitioning into their next indie heart stopper, the boys on stage were clearly enjoying themselves as a few fist pumps were thrown in amongst smiles from the rest of the band. In keeping with the underlying joke, Symons cheekily asked, “Anyone done some shuffling tonight?” Alas, no-one in the room had done any shuffling, and so on that note they ended with their single Green Light District.

Only their second show of the year, Red Jezebel took to the stage to a decent crowd and many cheers as they picked up their weapons of choice to farewell bassist Mark ‘Cruicky’ Cruickshank, who’s moving to Melbourne. Beginning their set with Lost My Gun was a perfect way to showcase their well put-together alt-country-indie-rock, complete with harmonies that actually harmonised. It’s not hard to see that they know exactly what they’re doing and could easily fit in at a larger venue – they’re professionals now. The jumping and stomping continued through to Devil’s Advocate, where they proved how well they play together as a band. Fittingly wearing a red sweater, Paul Wood threw his head back and forth like a loose cannon, no one knowing when and if he was going to burst with screaming, singing energy or stay calm and collected. They went from extreme to absolutely minimal with ease and serious to joking within seconds. “Thanks for making the trip out, and not wearing scary clothes and hanging outside,” Wood exclaimed, keeping with the in-joke, to which one punter replied on behalf of everyone, “It’s such an unusual combination!”

The band seemed to go all out for their last show with Cruicky, who looked a little worse for wear at, essentially, his own farewell party as he bantered with the audience. A less polished version of More Than You’ll Ever Know won over a few people who were standing still, with Kicking Deadly Sins continuing the glasses-in-the-air sing-along. Cruicky could barely contain his boozy glee as he loped back to the microphone, stood on tiptoes, proved he wasn’t going to vomit by telling everyone he’d done that already, and challenged everyone to get him more alcohol to see if he would throw up again. By this stage, a small gap in the crowd had formed in front of his spot on stage “just in case”. The rest of the band laughed with him as friends, Wood ruffling his hair affectionately. It was obvious they didn’t want to stop playing by the amount of fun they were having on stage, but eventually they had to stop and Bodyline ended their exciting set.

Even though “half of the rhythm section is departing from WA,” said drummer Alex Hyman, any fears of a break-up were quickly quelled with a promise: “This isn’t the end of the Jezebel.”