Tonight, marks a few firsts for me – first gig in Melbourne, first tram ride to a gig and most importantly first time I’ve seen Brisbane band Port Royal Live!!
It’s a triple header here at The Old Bar in Fitzroy. Sharing the bill with Port Royal are two Melbourne based acts Zachary Leo and The Bone Shack.
For me tonight is ALL about Port Royal. I’ve seen the clips, I’ve streamed the music, I’ve followed their Facebook and Instagram pages and I sound like a right royal stalker!!
For those of you unfamiliar Port Royal are; Lawson Doyle (lead vocalist/guitarist/songwriter), Liam Morton (lead guitarist/backing vocal/songwriter), Connor Arnold (drums/backing vocal) and Sam Shepherd (bass/backing vocal).
We’re in an interlude between the last act (The Bone Shack) and the boys. Things are being readied on stage and I’m amusing myself with my own wigged out thoughts…Geez! Lawson is much taller than I thought; Love the boy’s image, the flairs, very chic and before you know it – BOOM! THE BOYS ARE IN THE HOUSE!!
There’s no easing the crowd into the music the set starts off with a cracking track and the confidence of leading front man Doyle is all consuming. Already there’s an aura centered squarely around his presence that is impossible to ignore.
There’s a surge forward in the front of stage area…the dreaded ‘girl crush’ with a smattering of male counterparts and I find myself shuffled toward the edge of the room away from where I had hoped to get some great gig shots. I have to remind a couple of young ladies that I cannot move any further because I’m already splayed against a brick wall!
As I peruse the fully stacked room, I see that others have taken to perching on the platform style seating at the edges of the room to have the best vantage point. I am completely surprised at the following Port Royal has in this city and it’s not just a young contingent of punters. This is an 18+ event and we are talking an age range from 18 to approximately 55 in the room.
It’s in the first few songs of the set that I see the professionalism of Doyle and the cohesivity of the Port Royal team in action with wing man Morton and a management representative assisting with a very uncooperative microphone.
Technical issues can be expected of course in this line of work but Doyle’s commitment to the old adage “the show must go on” was absolutely incredible as he ducks, weaves and bends his tall frame to adjust his vocals within reach of the offending microphone which was going up and down as it was being tamed by the wing man and he continued delivering an almost flawless performance for audience.
With things back to normal, the microphone now behaving and Morton back in place we are treated to some great musicianship.
Hey ho – What’s this?? Doyle is a man of all trades and has pulled out a harmonica! The reeds vibrate willingly to his every breath producing great tones.
Morton proves himself as a riff wizard and has his turn in the spotlight the girls swooning at his feet. There’s an opportunity for him to extend himself as he takes on the lead vocals for a crowd favourite “She’s One of A Kind”. Avid fans in the crowd already knowing the lyrics join him in unison and the room is feeling all warm and fuzzy in contrast to the hits before that created an electric buzz.
On bass, the newcomer, Shepherd is steadfast and true with his rhythmic thumping. Unfortunately, the lighting is dark on his side of the stage and his talent is disguised in the shadows. Presenting a somewhat demure stance on stage he calmly steps forward engaging in support backing vocals from time to time which adds to the dimensions of the harmonies. No doubt he will find his pride of place as he grows within his space however instrumentally he like the others knows his craft and knows it well.
And what of the backbone of the band, the man who keeps it all to tempo – Arnold…? He’s obscured from my view, but I can hear those skins being caressed and mastered. I asked a woman in front of me to get me a picture of him which she did.
The set listing tonight has included some great fan favourites, One of a Kind, Lucy, Rock & Roll Is Dead, Don’t You Forget About Me and new release Ain’t Got You.
The time rolls on and it’s near 11pm somewhere, time for the show to end…Yeah right! The crowd erupts in a chorus of solidarity “One more song – one more song”. The boys oblige, the crowd applaud and that’s it our night comes to a real conclusion.
Port Royal have established their musical style, genre, image and tenacity to involve both genders as a fan base. Taking their influences from great bands such as The Doors and The Rolling Stones they devour the audience with their original music compositions. Performances are inclusive and like Morrison and Jagger and with due recognition to the talents of the other band members – Doyle is the leader of the pack!
We have nothing more to do now but to visit the merchandise stand, take home some memories and mementos of what was one of the best parties I’ve ever been to. Yep! Got myself a copy of Love, Passion, Satisfaction on vinyl and had it signed by the boys. I even got to rub shoulders with the wing man…lol
I nabbed some other punters for comment on my way out…here’s what they had to say:
Hi! My names Karen and I’m from Adelaide. This is the best band. I’m nearly 53 years old and man they rock! It’s like bringing me back to my teenage years and it’s so awesome hearing music like that out here now…love it!!
I’m Shayla from Melbourne. I followed them from St Kilda from last time they were here, and it was awesome.
I’m Darcy from Melbourne and I saw them at St Kilda and tonight was fucking amazing!
It’s been a fabulous time with Port Royal – full of fun, laughter, singing, leg splits, rock and roll and good feelings. I’m leaving this Port Royal experience feeling energised and on a high. Recommend you get yourself along to a gig or get yourself some of their music – you’ll never look back!