We Have a Technical Difficulty (The Palais Theatre)

Beautiful live review of the last 2014 Hunters and Collectors gig at the Palais Theatre.

Author:  Alex Amster, The Dwarf.

Date: 12 April 2014.

Original URL: http://thedwarf.com.au/live_review/19225/hunters-and-collectors-_-we-have-a-technical-difficulty


Article Text

“We have a technical difficulty”; the words from Mark Seymour that started the last show of Hunters & Collectors’ 2014 tour. Since their reunion at the 2013 AFL Grand Final, Hunters & Collectors have been bringing their unique brand of classic Australian rock music around the country with a string of A Day On The Green gigs and two dates each at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre and Melbourne’s Palais Theatre. Having never seen them live I was excited to experience one of Australia’s greatest bands — these days it can be all too easy to be swept up in the thrill of all the great international acts we’ve been seeing. We must never forget the fact that Aussies can too can rock and roll.

After the technical issue (seemingly with the keyboards) was fixed, the band launched straight into a track from their first album, and a personal favourite of mine, “Talking To A Stranger”. Immediately the crowd was hit with a huge and intense sound, fuelled by the dual guitars of Mark Seymour and Barry Palmer. Instantly I realised that they were more powerful live than I had imagined, especially when the horns joined in. Nothing was lost in the mix and every detail was audible, which is an important thing for a band with such a layered and interesting sound.

They pushed ahead through great tracks from different points in their career. Unless you’re a huge fan it can be easy to only remember the bands hit singles, but even after a few songs they show you how great and how diverse they are. None of the songs they played were the same, each of them with different feels and different song writing genius and there were moments where I could have mistaken them for a more modern band. Their sound is so lovable for its 80s/90s feel and it reminds you of English contemporaries like The Stone Roses while being distinctly Australian and in my opinion, a little ahead of its time.

Mark Seymour insisted that everyone should stand up after a few songs – The Palais is one of my favourite venues but audiences there seldom stand – it was refreshing and exciting to see the crowd rise and dance to their favourite songs. Seymour is definitely a great front man and though his banter is somewhat awkward, it’s still funny and when he sings he sounds like no other. His voice is huge and gritty. Backups are provided by the rest of the band but they only enhance Mark’s presence.

When it was time for their hits like “Holy Grail” and “Do You See What I See” I had almost forgotten it was the same band that wrote these great songs. Hunters & Collectors should definitely not be summed up by the success of these tracks, but at the same time I am glad these are the songs that can represent Australian music of the 80s and 90s and it was an absolute blast to sing along to them and hear them live.

They finished up their main set with “When The River Runs Dry” and “Do You See What I See”. The crowd was definitely pleased with the show so far but roared for more. In the encore they performed more classics such as “The Slab”, “Skin Of Our Teeth” and of course “Throw Your Arms Around Me”.

“Throw Your Arms Around Me” is an incredibly beautiful song, I was lucky enough to see it performed by Eddie Vedder in the same venue in February so it was somewhat more special to see it again played by the band that wrote it. It’s a song that translates into more than just a love song: Seymour dedicated it to the asylum seekers which reminded me of its power. A song like that makes me proud to be Australian.

To finish the show, the tour, and mark the end of Hunters & Collectors for the foreseeable future they came out for a second encore and played “Know Your Product” by The Saints, joined by Paul Dempsey and Clint Hyndman from Something For Kate. There was so much energy and excitement on stage. Barry Palmer’s guitar tech came out for a bit and strummed Barry’s guitar while he fretted the chords. It was a perfectly rockin’ way to end the night.

Hunters & Collectors are an example of how rock music should be. They are tight, but loose. They have pop hooks, yet are as alternative as anyone. They are loud, but have clarity and most importantly: they rock and they roll.