When I first heard Pond, I was stunned by the sheer consistency of their music.
And ‘consistency’ admittedly sounds clinical, as if I’m describing a recipe. Though it seems the only way to accurately summarise their ability to repeatedly produce such high-quality tracks.
I was completely perplexed as to why their set wasn’t a sell-out (5 March). Even still, The Triffid seemed to be a tight squeeze, as the west-coast musicians entered.
New single and the starting song of ‘Tasmania’, ‘Daisy’, was surrendered first. I overheard an audience member rush in and declare: “Thank god we didn’t miss Daisy!”
Frontman Nick Allbrook instantly drew the eye, exuding indescribable 'zazz' and flare. I almost questioned whether his energy levels had set the bar too high, too early. “Alright!” he exclaimed brightly, the band immediately diving into track two of the record. ‘Sixteen Days’ so short and sweet, an arguable hybrid of Andy Bull and Architecture In Helsinki.Click here to read our recent interview with Pond.
“Chyeah, hey!” Nick cried out, communicating with the crowd in snippets. Though the lack of words were supplemented in actions – he stood with his toes on the edge of the stage, power stance, front-row fans clawing at him.
The electric guitar solo in ‘Sweep Me Off My Feet’ was amplified immaculately. I rarely ponder the acoustics mid-performance though there I was, quietly complimenting the production team as the riff pierced through the swirling instrumentals.
“This song is dedicated to a fountain in Canberra – and to Christopher Pyne, shout-out to you,” Nick grinned. ‘Fire In The Water’s lyrics, “I’m Christopher Pyne, and I’m doing fine, hands up for the blind, leading the blind”, adding a timely element of political humour, amid the politician’s recent resignation.
Image © Creation Saffigna
‘Zen Automation’ encompassed the dramatic vocals of that in iconic Queen ballads; “This is a new song, from the new album,” next preceded the sparkling ‘Hand Mouth Dancer’.
The addition of an unconventional rock band instrument is always an addition well received; Nick swapped the guitar for a flute, his onlookers cheering in delight. “Thank you very much,” he gushed. “You’re only the second group of people to hear us play these songs live.” The audience roared, he continued. “It’s probably about time we played an old one, I suppose.”
‘Don’t Look At The Sun Or You’ll Go Blind’ dates years, highlighting Pond’s core, psychedelic-rock roots. I’m a stickler against using ‘epic’ as an adjective (it relates more to size, than to quality), though the grand scale of this track can only be described as having epic proportions.Click here for more photos from the show.
Nick threw in a line from The Jacksons, weaving through the chorus of ‘Blame It On The Boogie’; the band devoted the song to The Prodigy member Keith Flint’s tragic death.
“It sounds like space,” somebody whispered beside me, as Pond blared the magical (my pick of their discography), ‘Burnt Out Star’. I wasn’t fortunate enough to witness a Pink Floyd performance, though I’d bet the similarities here were uncanny.
“You guys are lovely,” Nick praised. “Here’s another one from that same album.” Title track ‘Tasmania’s walking bass almost outshone the clever and classically Australian chorus: “I might go shack up in Tasmania, before the ozone goes, and paradise burns in Australia, who knows? Who knows?”
Pond’s older albums were rarely touched upon though ‘Giant Tortoise’ proved a set-list must; the massive 2013 single asserted its age with less electronics and synths, more electric guitar and crashing percussion. Back-to-back vintage tracks with ‘Eye Pattern Blindness’, rewinding to their debut record.
“Let’s play a bit of the Bee Gees,” multi-instrumentalist Joseph Ryan cooed, mashing ‘Jive Talkin’ with fan-favourite, ‘Paint Me Silver’.
The band offered their gratitude, closing the set on underrated slow-burner, ‘The Weather’. An encore ensued, crowd mirroring Mike’s spirit fingers; Joseph alternatively steered the ship singing ‘Medicine Hat’, before the band performed ‘30,000 Megatrons’ – a grand finale.
I remember falsely presuming Pond’s unbelievable composing was credit solely to Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker’s input. While no doubt his expert production skills fine-tuned the band’s impressive new record, their mere presence on stage has eradicated any belief that he’s the only contributing talent.
Nick Allbrook especially is an exceptional performer, impossible to tear your eyes from. His erratic dancing and dramatised motions never once felt silly – they were textbook rock & roll, they completely swept you in.
Five albums deep, an admirable feat, though it’s clear the recent two are shining examples of Pond in their prime. I watched wide-eyed and awe-inspired as the five-piece chimed the line “burnt out star”, ironic lyrics considering these musicians are truly anything but.