Review: Luca Brasi @ Northcote Theatre (Melbourne)

Luca Brasi
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.

People may like to say that it rains in Melbourne all the time. Locals dismiss that stereotype, of course.

Yet regular Northcote Theatre gig-goers may say there's some truth in it; tonight's Luca Brasi show (17 May) was the fifth in a row that did not have the weather on the punters' side. Fortunately, the Tassie-born, punk-rock veterans are a perfect antidote to damp socks and spirits.

A short set from LA's Spanish Love Songs was a solid entrée, the band playing some favourites from 2023's 'No Joy', bookending the upbeat set with 'Lifers' to open and 'Clean-Up Crew' to close – judging by the crowd's response, there were plenty of people on hand to catch them, with no headline gigs scheduled on this trip.

However, all eyes were on the stage at 10pm when Luca Brasi walked out. Some of the most wholesome, lovely folk in Australian music who also have the songs and chops in spades, kicking things off in style with 'The Entry Ramp', and following it up with the title track, from 2023's excellent 'The World Don't Owe You Anything'.

There were some real highlights among the set, including 'Got To Give' from their breakthrough fourth album 'Stay', which scored the band their first Australian Top 10 record, and the one that really started their mid-career ascent to easily filling large venues like the Northcote Theatre on a Friday night.

Another treat came soon after, with fellow Tasmanian and incredible artist in her own right Bec Stevens joining the band for 'Count Me Out', the heart-on-sleeve final track from 2016's 'If This Is All We're Going To Be'. It showed frontman Tyler Richardson and Stevens as a vocal force to be reckoned with (we'd like some more collaborations, please, thank you).

The set was a good trek through their six-album career to date – six records that not only trace the band's growth but their consistency. As such, there were always going to be some omissions, though one tune that is now a worthy and much-loved staple kicked off their two-song encore. 'How To Make Gravy', of course.

Much like Camp Cope's cover of Yeah Yeah Yeahs' 'Maps', Luca Brasi have not just honoured an already amazing song but made it something of their own. It's never not been goosebump-inducing, with Richardson and band playing it with all the visceral emotion that both sums them up and has brought such a new dimension to the Paul Kelly classic.

Of course, it's a hard one not to end on, but the boys delivered a final farewell with 'Clothes I Slept In', another fan sing-along favourite. Spirits lifted and bodies warmed, and perhaps voices a little hoarser than two hours earlier in the night, it was once again time to face the cold, wet night outside.

But, as always after a Luca Brasi show, everyone seemed to have a bit more of a spring in their step as they filed down High Street just shy of midnight.

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