Reviewed on Friday May 31

It’s Friday night at Vivid, so cue weaving through thousands of gawkers at the lights and fountains and general spectacle of the harbour, to get to the Opera House.Luckily, inside the Joan Sutherland Theatre is just as visually stunning, with smoke and a dripping sound lending Cloud Control’s Dream Cave set (named after their forthcoming album) an air of mystery. Given this is the world’s first live performance of that album, the feeling of not knowing what comes next is appropriate.

From the outset, any doubts about any second album slump are allayed, with the newer songs interspersed and comparing favourably with Bliss Release standards through the set. While we’ll have to wait to know the titles of many newies, generally the four-piece has further pushed the boundaries of their songwriting, with swirling melodies, changing tempos and layered vocals combining to almost disguise the fact that at their heart, Cloud Control write classic pop songs, demonstrated by the excited squeals that greet old favourites like ‘Gold Canary’, ‘There’s Nothing In The Water’ and ‘Meditation Song #2’. Before the show I’d heard a fan describe them as “Australia’s Grizzly Bear,” but tonight’s crowd bounces in their chairs, and eventually dances in the aisles far more vigorously than I’ve seen for that band.

Alastair Wright is still an exceptional singer, imbuing sometimes obtuse lyrics with genuine emotion, and by the sounds of the new material, keyboardist Heidi Lenffer will be taking on more vocal duties too. However, whether on songs brand new or familiar, Cloud Control really excel when they swerve into long, cyclical instrumental jams, perfectly matched tonight by the galaxy-themed projections dashing across the layered cave set. Finishing on the oldest song of the night, ‘Buffalo Country’, the outlook for Cloud Control’s immediate future is entirely positive.


*Photo: Daniel Boud

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