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Over the years there have been quite a mixed bag of bands emerging from Australia. From the great: AC/DC, INXS, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds to the truly awful: Ermmm, this includes pretty much anything involving daytime soaps and the talents that soon emerge onto the popular music scene with voices you’d rather forget. Obviously this list excludes Kylie and maybe the other Minogue but has to include Australia’s very own version of the Hoff – Stefan Dennis and who could possibly forget Craig McLachlan?

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Kicking off the support slot is antipodean Sarah Blasko. Before researching I could have sworn Sarah was Welsh born, When speaking and when singing her voice at times closely resembled that of Cerys Matthews, other times Sarah had a non too distant resemblance to Ellie Goulding. Looking Svelte in a long slashed black dress with silver sequined claw gripping her left shoulder and awkward robotic movements made for what could have been a promising visual feast. Sadly, the stage show was visually un-arresting. I’m unable to fully describe the sound and give it the justice it deserves, the repetitive non offensive melodies and driving drum beats project an easy listening sound probably best suited to a slightly lively, respectable dinner party or when in need of soothing back ground music whilst reading a favourite novel by candlelight. Rousing it isn’t, but close your eyes look away and it’s easy to find yourself won over by her soft feather edged voice.

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For a band touring their first album I’m surprised to learn that A, The Temper Trap have bagged the O2 Academy main room relegating ‘The Future Heads’ to Academy 2 and B, realizing they must be close on selling out the 3,000 capacity venue when you look up and see a few bobbing heads bouncing up and down in the balcony seats. Prior to tonight’s gig my limited knowledge of TTT was that they hailed from Australia, had been compared to Radiohead, U2, Simply Red and even had DJ Shadow programming the beats on ‘Science Of Fear’.

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The band enters the stage and with no means of an introduction or hello head straight into this evenings set. Playing as a five piece that at times features three guitars, a bass and drums not withstanding keyboards and on occasion Dougie Mandagi playing duo on drums alongside Toby Dundas. The dark lighting adding an element of mystery, unfussy, uncomplicated, extended usage of strobe lighting changing constantly to suit the style of music perfectly. The cool, dry atmosphere towards the back of the dance floor seems indicative of the crowds’ energy. This is music you mostly listened to as opposed to music that made you really move.

One of the things I like best when going to gigs of relatively new bands is not knowing what to expect. Sometimes you leave feeling short changed, sometimes you’re left content and at other times you’re blown away asking yourself how you’ve not seen more of this band before? It’s fair to say that most audiences feed from the energy of the performing band. Even more so if the band playing appears happy and genuinely privileged to be up on stage performing. TTT seemed genuinely appreciative of the crowd reaction. The crowd cheering concluded every track played.

At times the silkiness of Dougie Mandagi’s falsetto voice detracted from the instrumental nature of some tracks, there were times when I just wanted to hear the band play but Dougie’s voice just seemed slightly over-powering. At most times though the high pitch and tone perfect voice compliments the music perfectly.

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It’s always a brave mood for a band to play their most popular song midway through a set, the extended instrumental intro to ‘Sweet Disposition’ sounds amazing and managed to avoid turning into a self indulgent display of musical excellence before settling into the luscious tune everyone knows so well.

Seeing Dougie take off his sweat top and bassist Jonathon Aherne let his hair down gives the impression we’re about to witness a new raised energy level. The instrumental ‘Drum Song’ sees Dougie playing his own paired down drum kit alongside Toby Dundas, Visually, the band are playing with a new lifted energy level, Jonathon playing amid a maelstrom of head shaking and flowing hair. Sonically the sound was incredible, truth be told I was sorry to hear the ending and see the band walk off for a well-deserved encore rest.

The finale of the night was the DJ Shadow assisted ‘Science of Fear’. This could easily be a number dropped straight onto an ’Unkle’ album. In tonight’s case it was all their own doing. I can’t quite say I was fully blown away by TTT’s performance but given that I had no preconceptions I was genuinely overwhelmed by how well they played and how well the audience received them. Definitely a band I’d make a point of seeing again, and I doubt you’d be disappointed if I suggested you do the same too.

Words by Lee Hathaway
Photos by Keith West

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