Review: Cordrazine @ Northcote Social Club (Melbourne)

Cordrazine played Northcote Social Club (Melbourne) on 27 April, 2024.
Bron is a Melbourne-based science journalist who loves to return 'home' to a band room any chance she gets. She has 25 years' experience and has worked for Rolling Stone, Blunt, The Sydney Morning Herald, JUICE and many more.

With four bands on the bill, for a sold-out Saturday night at Northcote Social Club (27 April), it was always going to be hard to stick to set times.

So when Cordrazine took to the stage near 11.30pm, it felt like a throwback to normal headliner starts at, say, Punters Club in 1998. Speaking of 1998, that was the year this then young Melbourne band scored an Australian Top 10 record in their acclaimed debut LP 'From Here To Wherever' – and also the year they broke up.

Frontman Hamish Cowan – who, let's be real, and no disrespect to his full band, is both the brainchild and voice of Cordrazine – did dip his toe back into the scene in 2009-2010, with the release of the strings-drenched 'Always Coming Down' album, but then it felt like once again it was quickly curtains.

Now, have we entered the third act of Cordrazine? We hope so. Playing their first Melbourne show since November 2022, this time the band brought with them some new music – namely, their first song in nearly 15 years, 'Hey Man'.

"Historically, this is a vulnerable time for the band – it's usually when I disappear," Cowan shared on social media at the start of April. "Not to worry, nothing like that going to happen this time."

Tonight's show certainly felt like new beginnings, with a buzz around the new material and forthcoming album. That's not to say there wasn't a real feeling of celebrating the past, too; 'From Here...' opener 'Clearlight' felt as big and bombastic live as it ever has, which they haven't always captured on record.

Cowan looked to be shaking off some nerves early on, and admitted as much, taking a gulp of water and admitting his mouth was very dry. "I said I wasn't going to talk tonight. . . but I'm sh.tting myself!" he shared.

While the crowd started off a little rowdy, by 12.07am (I checked) there was a silence over the room between songs. Yes, everyone was still very much awake, but for a lot of fans, it'd been easy to forget what a powerhouse Cowan is onstage. There was also a playful air about the set, with snare drum swapping out full band for 'Spain', with 'Memorial Drive' another highlight.

Early in the set Cowan announced he had a song he wrote as a proposal to his now-wife (so it must have gone over pretty well). While that was somewhat unexpected, even more of a surprise was him coaxing Rachael onto the stage so he could sing it to her. While it felt impromptu and much of the crowd lapped it up, there were some punters checking watches.

Back on track, Cowan launched into a stripped-back version of 'Crazy', the song that started it all for the band. It was a quietly beautiful rendition, but one that might have been better – for those down the front left, anyway – without Rachael and friends talking loudly through it. (Though we imagine it was a very nerve-racking time being suddenly onstage and serenaded to you in front of a packed NSC.)

The crowd began to thin into the second half of the set, but 'Hey Man' suggested good things to come from the album, and 'Ever After' plus 'Untitled' from 'Always Coming Down' were late highlights. Explaining which 'Untitled', Cowan offered: "Here's the thing, I like the last song on any record to be called 'Untitled'. So this is 'Untitled 2'."

It was a long night but a good night, and great to see such support for Cordrazine going forward as much as looking back.

"Thank you everyone for such a surprising response to the show," Cowan had posted a few days earlier, with news the show had sold out. "Self-doubt always makes me anxious no one will turn up, so to sell out a show after all these years is extremely humbling, not to mention exciting."

Judging by the number of people who were desperately trying to find last-minute tickets to this one, we imagine the day no one turns up is very, very far away.

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