Review: Underground Lovers @ Northcote Social Club (Melbourne)

Underground Lovers played Northcote Social Club (Melbourne) on 16 December, 2023.
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.

For the last standalone weekend before Christmas, it was no surprise to find Melbourne stacked with gig options across town.

However, a loyal crowd was on hand to catch an all-but sold-out gig from local indie icons the Underground Lovers (16 December).

Playing the more electronic songs from their catalogue, the Undies prepared fans ahead of time. And a fitting opener of 'Cold Feeling' set the scene for a loud, atmospheric and dreamy set.

There were some key omissions, including 'Your Eyes', which had been the first song selling this themed set in the press release for the shows.

Still, there was more than enough to choose from, with highlights including 'Get To Notice' from 1992's 'Leaves Me Blind', which still sounds as sharp as it did more than 30 years ago.

While the line-up has slightly shifted over the years, the core founding members, frontman Vincent Giarrusso and guitarist Glenn Bennie, have been the heart of the electronic side of the band.

And their connection was on display throughout this set, which leaned heavily on 1997's 'Ways T'Burn' and 1999's 'Cold Feeling'. From these records, we had moody opener 'Cold Feeling', the upbeat 'Feels So Good To Be Free' and 'Starsigns' as set standouts.

Knowing their crowd, the band were out for a good time not a long time, and the set came in at just ten songs including encore. While 'Losin' It' from their breakthrough third album, 1994's 'Dream It Down', was a highlight, they saved the best for last, with Philippa Nihill joining the band for vocals on 'I Was Right' from the underrated 'Leaves Me Blind'.

Giarrusso has never been the best at between-song banter, mostly because he's so captivating as a performer. The entire set was just over an hour long, which felt short for a Saturday night at Northcote Social Club, but it was a welcome length of time for the demographic in attendance (this reviewer included in said demographic).

It was short and sweet, and it would have been nice to have more, but getting home by midnight was most certainly a happy ending.

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