LIVE REVIEW – The Gin Club 10th Anniversary with Shifting Sands & Orphan Ann – Black Bear Lodge 13/12/2013

I’m writing this review through a hangover.  It’s a combination of end of year work drinks and a blazing live performance from Brisbane’s finest music collaborative, The Gin Club.  I was already fairly intoxicated by the time I arrived at Black Bear Lodge.  It’s a fitting venue for the band’s 10th anniversary show, having been their spiritual home since it was known as The Troubadour.  I’ve always thought that The Gin Club are a band you get drunk with; every show is like a party with old friends, and even if you haven’t seen each other for a while you pick up where you left off and have a great night.

Orphan Ann had just started when I walked in.  They played a solid set of competent folk tunes.  The early punters sat along the edges of the room, or stood up the back near the bar, just as they did for opening bands in the old Troubadour days.  Unfortunately none of their songs seemed to stand out enough to drag people away from their conversations.  While they didn’t excite me I wouldn’t be adverse to seeing them again.

Shifting Sands did what Shifting Sands do best – downbeat world-weary introspective pop.  Geoff Corbett & Danielle Golding traded beautiful harmonies about sex, booze and depression.  Corbett’s deep, rasping rumble is perfectly suited to this stripped-back style of music.  Shifting Sands may be what his whole career, from SixFtHick to the Tremors, has been building towards, and if this set is anything to go by, their debut album will be one of the best records of 2014.  If you’ve ever felt like cutting yourself Shifting Sands are your soundtrack.

By the time The Gin Club took to the stage a capacity audience had piled into the venue and seemingly filled every available space.  In all my years of going to their shows I don’t think I’ve ever heard ‘Bats’ played live, and it was only fitting that they began a set heavy on first album songs with this seldom-aired gem.

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It’s rare to go to a show by a local band and have everyone in the audience know all the words to every song, but The Gin Club have achieved cult status in Brisbane.  It was truly akin to a religious experience with the band leading their devotees through everything from the raucous highs of ‘Drugflowers’ & ‘Wylde Bitch’, to the anthem for jaded 30-somethings ‘Gas Guzzler’.  People hugged in jubilation.  I saw men shed tears.  One or two may have rolled down my own cheek.  It seemed that the only things missing were Ola Karlsson & Angus Agars, but it’s so rare to have the whole collective on the same stage together this is a minor complaint.

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There may be many imitators, but there is only one Gin Club.  The quality of their back catalogue is unparalleled amongst their peers.  Who else could play a nearly 2 hour set and have to leave out songs as good as ‘You, Me & The Sea’, ‘Gabriel’ & ‘I Was A Young Boy’?  Last night was a fitting celebration of their contribution to our music scene and their song’s influence on our collective psyche. Here’s to the next 10 years.

By Clint Morrow

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