Reviewed on Thursday November 7
The No Dice Paradise night began with the somewhat timid arrival of the shy Okin Osan, who awkwardly bantered between the sparse crowd and one another. This didn’t last long, however, as they quickly picked up the pace with their charming, clattering guitar pop, led by the sibling duo of Rose and Rainbow Chan. Big smiles and even bigger dance breaks ensued. Simply put: if you weren’t crushing on this party-friendly power trio by the end of their all-too-brief set, you were at a different show altogether.
Whereas Okin Osan revelled in their skewiff garage performance, jazzy Sydneysider Jack Colwell did not put a single foot out of place. Backed by an impeccably tight band, Colwell shimmied and shook in time with their swinging rhythms. All the while, he lay down a husky baritone recalling James Blake or Jack Ladder, crooning with some serious conviction. Although a wide array of influences were present and accounted for, they added up to something much, much greater – something wholly unique and striking to experience.
Brendan Maclean has been blurring lines since long before Robin Thicke even thought of doing so, albeit his are the lines of genre. One day you’d catch Maclean unleashing his inner Rufus Wainwright with piano-driven sad bastardry, the next airing his inner Liza Minelli with vamping, exuberant pop. There seems to be no time for middle ground in Maclean’s world, and tonight’s set is no exception. Accompanied by two keyboardists and the eccentric Betty Grumble (as well as, for whatever reason, Colwell sitting behind a computer and reading a book), Maclean dipped and dove between sounds and styles without so much as batting an eyelid.
We were treated to some bright-eyed and bushy-tailed electropop in the form of original material from Maclean’s forthcoming crowd-funded debut album. This, however, was also matched with moments of introspect, like a tender solo version of single ‘OnlyOnly’ and an intense ‘Jesus’ which left the crowd in shocked silence as Grumble attempted to free herself from the cling wrap covering her entire body. How much of this was a stunt is anyone’s guess, but it made for a powerful performance. Closing with a triumphant, brilliantly choreographed ‘Winner’, Maclean proved yet again that his chameleon-like approach to music pays off in spades.
BY DAVID JAMES YOUNG