Review: The Dandy Warhols @ The Gov (Adelaide)

The Dandy Warhols played The Gov (Adelaide) on 26 April, 2024.
Jason has been reporting on live music in South Australia for several years and will continue to do so while interest remains.

Thirty years is a long time to maintain momentum for a band, but The Dandy Warhols have aged gracefully since their early heyday and commercial peak in the mid to late '90s and early 2000s.

That interest hasn't waned either as evidenced by this latest, sold-out Australian tour including Adelaide's The Gov (26 April). Support band Magic Machine, from Sydney, are grateful to be on the same bill and play a set clearly in the genre of surfadelic.

Alongside the immediate reference point of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, the Sunnyboys also come to mind during their more melancholic, reflective songs such as the intro 'Day Dreamer'.

'Bad Boogie' has a pulsing, primitive bass and seems unending. They complete their set with 'Strange Magic', a frenetic wall of sound with falsetto vocals that includes a brief 'Popcorn' keyboard cameo within the intensive driving performance.

Opening with one of their most well-known and popular songs, 'Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth' (albeit with distorted vocals), The Dandy Warhols may not have been completely forthcoming with how this performance was going to go down.

With an unusual stage setup such that frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor is near the back of stage level with drummer Brent DeBoer on his right and guitarist Peter Holmstrom to his left. It is only Zia McCabe closest to the audience, on the right of the stage, amidst her array of keyboards and a bass that she plays occasionally throughout the set.

This first quarter of the show is an exercise in drones with Courtney's lower-register vocals nearly approximating throat-singing with an accompanying monochrome light show incorporating occasional strobing.

Lesser known early album tracks and songs from latest album 'Rockmaker' are played in the style of sludge-rock with a physical volume that envelopes the audience and perhaps alienates those here for the early 'hits'.

They don't remain left of centre for too long and show some restraint, reeling themselves back in with 'We Used To Be Friends', but even then they don't stray too far from the lower register with only Zia's high-note, keyboard-ping riff standing out.

The evolution of the set becomes apparent with the country pop of 'The Summer Of Hate', Zia's tambourine playing not only sounding like stamped boot spurs but a perfect visual substitute for a bullwhip.

After a couple more songs from 'Rockmaker', on the latter day 'Be Alright' Brent's metronomic beat is notable while Courtney's almost whispered vocal transforms within the song into a growl.

'I Love You' has the feeling of an out of sequence set closer, starting with the repeated vocal intro before being stretched out of proportion, a veritable feat of endurance for band and audience alike at a length near to a quarter of an hour.

It is fittingly followed thematically by the paced country blues of 'I Will Never Stop Loving You' and although Courtney's vocals are indecipherable in the mix, Zia successfully subs for and executes Debbie Harry's spoken-word performance from the final song on 'Rockmaker'.

For the last portion of their set, the band chose to perform songs from a period during which they had a higher commercial profile in the late '90s and early 2000s, commencing with 'The Last High'.

After noticing Zia has left to go backstage, Courtney comments: "I'm surprised she's made it this far," then shrugs and continues, "Let's do 'Holiday'," performing an impromptu solo 'Every Day Should Be A Holiday' with the audience singing along.

When Zia returns she announces: "It sounded really good in the bathroom," and then the whole band perform a reprise of the song before returning to the regular programming.

The catchy 'Get Off' leads into 'Bohemian Like You', their most well-known song gets the audience even more enthused, with only one other song having an iconic "Woo hoo"-like refrain that could get an audience more worked up.

To the haunting drones of 'Godless' the audience respond with a cheer of recognition, Zia giving an affirming nod. As the song comes to a close, the set similarly comes near to completion but not before a pairing of '...Come Down' songs, 'Pete International Airport' and 'Boys Better' in an extended performance that acts as not only a call-back to the set's droning beginnings but a summation of the set as a whole given the absence of an encore.

During the show and elsewhere, Courtney has made his positive feelings for Adelaide known and there is a definite mutual appreciation given the audience's response to the show.

This and the next Adelaide show were both sold out. If you have not or are not able to see them on this tour, do not miss them on the next.

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