Reviewed by Jon Jobbagy
Abbe May is one of Australia’s most exciting current performers. After much success with her atomic single Karmageddon, she has set out to take her unique sound to two of our most prominent cities, but as a loyal Western Australian the tour also focuses on her home state. As well as her electric stage presence she also has the uncanny ability to select a supporting act par excellence.
Shy Panther began a set of andante grooves with a falsetto hook somewhat reminiscent of Matt Corby’s “Brother”, though the final product was rather different. A syncopated slant saturated Goodgod Small Club as the fashionably late began to saunter in. Frontman Dan Fragomeni instantly captured my attention with a voice as smooth as the finest single barrel bourbon. His stage presence, however, is rather coy which in fact adds to his appeal and perhaps explains the bands choice of name.
As a six piece live act, Shy Panther lack an axe man and although I am a fan of at least a bit rhythm guitar, I can safely say they don’t really need the extra weight. The sound is abundantly rich with the bass and synth being the main focus apart from Fragomeni’s lustrous vocal delivery. Adding to this is the tasteful use of programmed sequencing that underlines their performance.
Definitive highlights were many. “Dreamcatcher” shared some undeniable metaphysical lyrics such as “Sleep is such a funny thing when the dreamcatcher comes undone” whereas “Erving” leans closer to salacious innuendo with “She smoked me like her last cigarette”. “Lipstick Cigarettes” was my personal favourite though.
Abbe May’s first gesture towards the anticipating audience was a salute by way of a drink held aloft above her head. Immediately began a powerful bass growl that went right through the body, gripping the soul, and effectively rumbling the innards. The first time I heard and felt such a thing was at my first Chemical Brothers gig at the Big Day Out’s infamous boiler room. Clearly my tastes have refined since then.
The fourth song into the set was introduced with “I would sell my soul for total control over you, you, and you, but not you. You’re my brother”. It was of course an heroic cover of the Motels “Total Control” that May delivered with incredible panache and saw the crowd wanting for more. As she introduced “Sex Tourettes”, a crowd member was amusingly heard to remark, “I thought she said sex tourism”, but thankfully we’re not in Thailand.
A hard hitting “Kiss My Apocalypse” came around seventh into the set and was followed up by the practically mandatory “Karmageddon” that effectively satisfied the crowd. It was, however, way too short and an extended version would have been appreciated.
Maybe I’ve got it wrong, but despite giving a powerful performance, May seemed like she couldn’t wait to get off stage and back to her hotel room. After the slightly Dub tinged “Perth Girls”, my assumption seemed to be effectively proven correct as she manically rushed off stage, never to be seen again, completely obviating any encore request I or anyone else in the audience may have shouted.
Honestly, it was an excellent set, but despite it being a Wednesday it could have been a little longer.