It was a show that nearly didn’t happen.
Sydney’s The Clouds were in the midst of their first headline tour since reuniting when bassist and vocalist Tricia Young was struck down with ill health. But when band finally made it to Brisbane’s The Triffid (3 February), it was to great fanfare.
Brisbane cult-figure Greg Brady, backed by The Anchors, opened with a set of sprightly indie pop.
Their set was filled with gentle melodies, even on rockier songs like the brilliantly titled ‘I Like The World But Just As A Friend’, and the applause for each was louder than the actual songs.
Special guests on the tour are the recently reformed Falling Joys, playing their first Brisbane show in 25 years. A funky bassline introduced ‘Shot In Europe’, with Suzie Higgie’s heavenly vocals chiming in and some rapping from guitarist Stuart Robertson.
“Hit after hit,” Suzie laughed during ‘Incinerator’, and she’s right that these songs should’ve been bigger: ‘Jennifer’ and ‘You’re In A Mess’ both have timeless melodies.
But excited fans singing along to every lyric and guitar lick of ‘Lock It’ showed they were and still are huge to them.
“We made it,” The Clouds’ singer and guitarist Jodi Phillis shouted to excited fans. The band exploded from the start with the clanging guitars of ‘Here Now’, that with the show’s delay sounded like a cheeky reference.
There were a few false starts throughout their set. Drummer Raphael Whittingham took the blame for a minor flub in ‘Check Us Out’, while Tricia had trouble counting into ‘Boy Of Air’, which is understandable due to their songs have complicated rhythms.
The band weren’t affected by them, clearly having a lot of fun just being together again. Tricia tried out jokes and Raphael replied that Tricia’s illness was due to her eating one of her own jokes. Their fun infected fans, who forgave the mistakes they noticed.
The Clouds were unique during their heyday because of Jodi and Tricia’s harmonies, and they’re still in fine form. The two sounded heavenly together over the jangling ‘Alchemy’s Dead’, and their countering melodies melded together beautifully on ‘Red Serenade’.
Musically, the band showed no sign of fatigue. David Easton’s guitar whined off-kilter riffs over the snarling ‘Bower Of Bliss’ and charged through ‘Aquamarine’, the punkiest song about mermaids ever.
New material appeared seamlessly alongside classics, although new single ‘Beautiful Nothingness’ stood out for its bright, reggae bounce.
The Clouds closed with their biggest hit, ‘Hieronymus’. The harmonised vocals and chiming guitars were prettier than the artwork of the song’s subject. They built to a manic end, with Jodi and Tricia yelping over the swirls of distorted guitars.
The Clouds bid farewell over the feedback ringing from their amps and the applause of fans, making it known the wait was worthwhile.