Reviewed by Emma Dean
The Vanguard is always a venue that puts me at ease. It’s patrons are a mix of modern and those stuck in bygone eras, but everyone comes together for one reason: love of music. And tonight it’s for the album launch of blues rockers Howlin’ Steam Train‘s ‘Green Jelly’.
For the second opening band it’s only their sixth gig as Los Tones, but each member of the band is a certified rock veteran of the local scene, fronted by Mother and Son‘s Bodie Jarman. Their sound is garage surf rock with a raw edge, and the four piece danced and jived on the tips of their toes onstage as the crowd, filled with sixties clad femme fatales, shook and shimmied on the dancefloor. And as always Jarman’s guitar skills were a joy to watch. In the words of Chuck Berry that boy can play a guitar just like he’s ringin’ a bell.
Melbourne boys Howlin’ Steam Train took to the stage next, bursting into ‘Ramblin’ Man‘. Catchy with raw vocals and a fast beat, it makes you want to pack up and hit the road in search of a new adventure. ‘Over The Bend’ is the first track from their new EP, and guitarist Teddy McLaughlin slid effortlessly into lead vocals. Mojo Juju, and Hayley from Twincest joined the boys onstage for new song ‘Shine‘. Slow and soulful, the addition of the understated female vocals added extra warmth to the track and a little extra eyecandy for the boys.
Teddy revealed to the crowd that the following track ‘Chinatown‘ wasn’t actually played on Triple J that morning as originally thought and had been announced on Facebook (sorry if I’m continuing to ruin the illusion). Fun, fast and bass heavy, ‘Chinatown’ is perfect. Drummer Jan also never fails to amuse the audience – last time I saw them we were treated to his full rendition of ‘Ice Ice Baby‘ – and he didn’t disappoint, bursting into an original song and drum solo, before thanking the crowd for their attendance and then himself for being in the band. The boys then finished the night with classic ‘Stray Cat Ricochet‘ and a little audience participation with their final new song ‘Boogie‘.
All in all an amusing and fulfilled night for all involved.