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St Helens @ Northcote Social Club (Melbourne) with Circle Pit and Panel of Judges 30/05/09

June 16, 2009

Opening the night was Sydney’s Circle Pit, a band I have been in love with ever since I saw them at this very same venue a little over 6 months ago, supporting Beaches. Their songs are loud and sort of sloppy, but aggressive with these subtly catchy undertones.  There weren’t many there initially to appreciate their brand of dirty rock and rolls songs but the crowd slowly grew, filling the whole club and selling out the show. There is something chaotic about a Circle Pit performance, the two front-people, Jack Mannix and Angela Bermuda acting as some sort of antiheros for the whole strategically unorganised operation. This band is amazing. Basically.

Filling in the middle was Panel of Judges, a band who I have heard lots about but never actually manage to catch live. To be honest, I wasn’t completely taken by their softly-sung pop songs. Their songs were delicate, with this sort of country, bluesy appeal rolled into guitar pop songs. Those around me appeared to enjoy it,  but tonight I just was not digging it, and was left slightly disappointed. Though, I would like to see them again, to have my mind changed because on record there is something charismatic about their gentle pop songs.

Then of course it was St Helens! Opening with ‘Don’t Laugh’, they played through a set of songs from their debut album (of which was being launched!) Heavy Profession as well as a couple of new, unknown and older songs peppered throughout their set. A particular stand out was ‘Get Up’ and ‘How To Choose Your Guru Pt. 2’, my two favourite songs on the album translated with even more fervour in their live incarnations. Also lacing their set was ‘a beautiful rendering of ‘St Luke’, with the front-lady and front-man Hannah Brookes’ and Jarrod Quarrell’s lamenting together perfectly, and ‘Coffin Scratch’ a song disliked by Quarrell, as stated by him to the audience. Though no encore was planned, a consistent request from the crowd to do ‘The Only Ghost In The Room’ bought Hannah and Jarrod back on stage, performing a slightly more ‘stripped back’ version of the song, a perfect way to end the night.

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