Taking you off tonight to one of my favourite venue’s ‘The Bearded Lady’ in Brisbane’s West End. One should be warned if coming to this venue – come early because it’s hard to get a park and I did have to do a bit of a trudge between the car and the front door.
I’ve got to say I’m just a little bit excited to be backing up my album review with a gig review of the launch of Hugo Stranger and The Rattlers debut album “Against the Tide”. It was a belter of an album and you can see what I thought in this blog post.
Also on the bill tonight two bands from Brisbane Independent Label 4000 Records – Fingerless and The Double Happiness neither of whom I’ve seen live until now…so I’m expecting big things from the night.
From the front room we can hear the sound check for Fingerless…yeah, too tempting so snuck in behind the black curtain. You know a great band when the sound check is epic! Their set was just explosive with several originals, some really sick combinations with one amplified stick and some heavy distortion and part way through we are introduced to Chloe who provides some ‘chick’ harmonies and who can go past a good tambourine player? – Note to self, attend a Fingerless gig!!!
Next on stage were The Double Happiness. Ahhhhh…the ‘surf’ sound enters the room. Refreshing to see a female lead and female bass player – no offence boys! Some great vibes throughout their performance and I couldn’t help getting a little B52’s familiarity within the composition delivery. Ooooo! New Album out – “Surfgazing”, something to check out. Not as energetic as Fingerless on-stage presence but the perfect accompaniment to what’s to come.
And here we are, arriving at the point where the room is taking off and the boys are only tuning and prepping. The vibe has just kicked up about 50 notches and punters are impatient and plentiful…it’s a SOLD-OUT launch – Hugo Stranger and The Rattlers “Against The Tide” …
Set starts with the first track from the album an instrumental entitled ‘Sunset Wrays’. The band kick off with gusto and the addition of Niv Bergman on Sax makes us dig deeper into the groove. Atkin on lead guitar takes my focus not only for his playing and energy but because I can visualize him in a “Brit Pop Band” – confident and bringin’ it to ya!!
Harrison leads us on to ‘Strange Days’, ‘By Your Side’, ‘Tonight’. His presence is commanding, and I can’t fault the vocals as he carries us across the genre divides with ease. The crowd have become louder and more fervent, and I’m being bugged by a lady that needs the whole front of stage to carry out her dance performance…a testament to Hugo Stranger and The Rattlers appeal.
The tracks just keep rolling out and the punters just keep screaming and whistling as each one begins. If you’ve ever dreamed of being a rock star you know the kind of atmosphere I’m talking about. There’s not one ‘dead mullet’ in the room…it’s a sea full of ‘groovers and shakers’ – yep even me! I am usually a listener that’s my thing but tonight I’ve been converted and not one part of me wants to stay still.
Halfway through, a cover, ‘Hound Dog’ by that Presley fella! The punters erupt but not me, this is where I take a break. Why? Firstly, because I’m not a Presley fan and secondly because all I wanted was more Hugo Stranger and The Rattlers originals…but hey, that’s just me and I can wait – the folks in here haven’t skipped a beat and really, it’s a bitchin’ cover I have to admit.
I’m pulled out of my doldrums by ironically a track called ‘Dark Places’. Throughout to this point we’ve seen the addition of the Sax and now two more very passionate musicians in Gareth Mewes (Cigany Weaver) on Violin and Elton Farmer on trumpet.
Although not members of Hugo Stranger and The Rattlers it has to be said that those three musicians on Sax, Violin and Trumpet sure held their own up there. The musical textures that intertwined and the obvious passion in their delivery well matched that of the band.
Scootin’ on through a few more tracks we come to the last two of the set which are also the last two on the album “Against the Tide” – ‘So Long Ago’ and ‘Into the West’. The genre here switches to the ‘Spaghetti Western’ stylings of the group and they carry it off well.
Thankfully that lady I mentioned before corralled her horse at this point choosing instead to join the ranks of listeners or singers because there’s no shortage of them for ‘So Long Ago’…*cough,cough* – I may have dabbled a bit here too. I can’t help feeling we are being let down slowly and that the time for ending is near and dammit – I’m not ready!
Whilst this all comes to a head I hone in on Lane and Zenchyson, bass and drum player respectively. The whole night they’ve been having a discussion with the music not the words and asserting the tight rhythm section of Hugo Stranger and The Rattlers. Is it just because of their placement on stage that we hear them but don’t see them? Based on their stamina alone tonight they should be recognised but it’s with their tempo, reliability and syncing that they shine.
Harrison introduces the last track of the night – ‘Into the West’ and the lovely Angela Bowen who lends her angelic tones to the song. There must be a name for what she’s doing but I don’t know what it is…she’s opening her mouth and beautiful tones are wafting forth over the instrumental that ‘Into the West’ is meant to be.
Wait! No seriously wait…I want more – they want more – we all want more!! Sadly, not to be due to time restrictions on the venue…lucky I have the album on my playlist in the car and it’s a good 45min drive back home so I’m set!!
Tonight I got everything I expected to get and then some. Masterful musicians, great stories, responsive punters, entertainment of value and well above the ticket pricing. This gig had it all and I’m well pleased that I came.
Hugo Stranger and The Rattlers are a band with unique yet familiar styles with an album and performance that when weighted against the more popular trends has placed them right into the competition not on the outer fringe. Well done boys – well bloody done!!
March 20, 2021
West End, Brisbane
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Saturdays @ Lefty’s
March 27, 2021
Leftys Music Hall
Caxton Street, Brisbane
Find Hugo Stranger & The Rattlers