Will Stoker and the Embers @ Rosemount, Perth (16/04/10)

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The Rosemount on Friday night was home to one of the most anticipated album launches of the year – the self-titled Will Stoker and the Embers album, from one of the most exciting live acts in town. With a good crowd already appearing mid-evening, there was a clear expectation of some big performances.

Sabretooth Tigers opened the night with loud, loose-sounding, raucous rock, just like they had come straight out of a stoner’s garage. The trio never took themselves seriously and who could? With songs like Rock n Roll Music Forever (with the catchy mantra, ”…and the party never stops….”) complete with extended jam, commentary about the football and asking people to form themselves into letters.

The nine-piece Brow Horn Orchestra are a seriously funky and fun hip-hop outfit, whose dynamic and charismatic performance quickly drew a large crowd. With myriad instruments ranging from horns (for once, the tuba actually looks like a cool instrument), clarinet, keyboard, bass, guitar and drums, it was a surprise that they were even able to fit everyone onto the stage, let alone jump around. MC Rezide was a mini-spectacle unto himself, from his impassioned delivery, energetic pounding of the cowbell (all songs need more cowbell) and his foray into the crowd with a megaphone. Brow Horn Orchestra also conjured a carnival atmosphere half-way through their set with some light twirling and juggling. They left with a little, “Love you.” Love you too, Brow Horn Orchestra.

Emperors is apparently one of the bands to look out for in the music scene. Well, perhaps they are; if you are a fan of beige, clichéd indie rock with a sound stuck perpetually in the 90s. After a small technical glitch which saw bassist/vocalist Zoe James completely silenced throughout their opening song, the band continued on their boring way. Apparently the crowd thought so too, with about half the room making their way back outside to the beer garden.

A stark, black and white projection of the Will Stoker and the Embers logo shone onto a sheet hung over the back of the stage, then the band exploded with Tickets Please, from the new album. The projection changed to black and white footage of a train as frontman Will Stoker high-kicked and snaked his way around the stage, in between planting his foot on the fold-back and demanding the audience to pay attention. Meanwhile, his band mates tore it up on their respective instruments. “Take off your pants!” someone from the crowd hollered.

Five Beds For Bitsy received a rousing reception, and it was surreal to watch Stoker singing with a burning intensity into the microphone while a projected image of himself jumping around played behind him – it was almost like watching Stoker’s poltergeist.

After the pounding beats of Five Beds For Bitsy died away, members from The Brow Horn Orchestra came on stage for The Waves Hiss And Burst. Beginning with a short, mournful-sounding clarinet solo from Stoker, the rest of the band joined in with staccato chords and bombastic horns. This was Will Stoker and the Embers at their enigmatic best, with swirling guitars and foreboding lyrics

Ten Thousand Horses (with the projection now showing black and white footage of a horse charge) saw the band back in more familiar rock territory, with guitarists Luke Dux and Gareth Bevan complementing each other well in their two-guitar aural assault.

“Who feels like a sing-along?” asked Stoker before the band struck the opening chords of lead single, The King. Stoker pontificated like a crazed preacher while the band punched in with short, heavy thumps and guitar wails, then the song suddenly took a 180-degree turn into anthem territory with a catchy chorus. It was a great, theatrical song with all the seemingly disparate elements tying in nicely together.

Drummer Ashley Doodkorte kicked off with a simple, yet driving drum pattern, then the whispered “Dig the roots out, dig the roots out…” made the crowd cheer loudly as Stoker announced In The Belly Of The Beast. With foreboding lyrics, multiple guitar wails and snappy drums, the band had the already-energised crowd pumping.

“That’s it, we’re finished, piss off”, Stoker muttered unconvincingly to the disbelieving crowd, before the band powered into one final song, a cover of Gloria. Teasing the crowd by starting off mid-tempo, the fun really began when the band kicked into high-gear.

Last time Will Stoker and the Embers launched their EP at the Rosemount, Stoker finished up swinging from the rafters and this time he went one better by leaping into the crowd, who reciprocated by tossing him around the room like a piece of flotsam floating atop a human ocean, before bearing him safely back onto the stage.

With the last fading chords of Gloria, the band left the stage in a dark haze of guitar feedback as the Will Stoker and the Embers logo reappeared on the projection sheet. For a moment, it seemed like the band would re-emerge again for yet another song, but sadly it was not to be. It was a fantastic night of music with an exciting and rousing performance from Will Stoker and the Embers, who, if there is any justice in the music world, should be destined for bigger and better things.

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