Mythologies – Michael Plater Album Launch 10/1/16

all of those broken down cowboys with their hearts on their sleeves. They go down so fast they fall so easily….

It was the first 15 seconds that echo, with a single guitar strumming an indie rock beat that first grabbed my attention. Follow with a build up of drums, bass and harmonica, add the distinctive resonating edgy vocal, and that was my introduction to Melbourne singer/songwriter, Michael Plater and a song I still can’t get out of head, Pretty Maids.

With a sound that’s been described as indie, folk, a little bit country, almost gothic and with “noir” influences, it’s this distinctive guitar and vocal that creates a mood that separates Michael from the crowd. It was last year at a PJ Harvey Tribute show that I first discovered Michael Plater. I couldn’t tell you which songs he performed on that night but his voice and performance style left a lasting impression. Although in some ways reminiscent of The Triffids, Velvet Underground and Lloyd Cole, his sound has a singularity that separates him.

So it was on yet another hot Sunday Summer evening that I ventured to The Tote in Collingwood for the launch of his second solo album, Mythologies, a follow up to the critically acclaimed 2012 solo debut, Exit Keys.

Supported by four other acts, Michael performed after the first three supports. First up; Bronwyn Adams, a one woman show with a haunting eclectic quality that was part performance, part poetry. Next, Henry Hugo, who currently resides in one of my top places, Switzerland. Vocally reminiscent of Nick Cave, his songs have a deep rich sound with a slow almost hypnotic guitar and beat. Having been completely unfamiliar with his music, (as it’s a departure from what I usually listen to), I’ve since played his recent release, Noctuary Songs, and May Queen, is already on repeat.

And now for the main event. The set list began in his typically understated style, without fanfare, but from the first guitar chord of the ballad, Reflections of a Dream, Michael had  command of the room. It’s not often at a gig, that the audience is completely absorbed in the performance. Next up, We’re All Drunk Again, with its Americana feel, first appears a light fun song but actually has quite a dark edge. We Lit the Lamps, slow, intense and full of emotion followed. Then, other favourites; The Officers Mess and Pretty Maids, both with a more acoustic feel that builds. Finally, it’s the guitar/harmonica combination in, Old Victories, that draws me in.

The songs are ballads, stories and emotions accompanied by a strong rhythmic or acoustic indie guitar sound and beat. Sometimes add percussion, sometimes not. Sometimes indie rock, sometimes more folk. Each song has the right balance. To me, it’s almost as if the music is there to enhance the words, thoughts and ideas. Lyrics of introspection and observation accompanied by great chord combinations and that vocal, is what really holds my attention.

The set of six new tracks, then finishing with, Rings of Smoke from his debut album, was over too quickly. I was just settling in.

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Michael Plater

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Michael Plater

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Michael Plater

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Henry Hugo

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Michael Plater

https://michaelplater.bandcamp.com/

https://henryhugo.bandcamp.com/album/noctuary-songs

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Changes – A David Bowie Tribute, Lyrebird Cafe. 21/11/15

Growing up in a house where my dad would come home from work every day and we’d spin his favourite 33’s, it’s no surprise I got my first album for my 8th birthday. TV was limited, but I begged my parents to give me the 6pm Sunday time slot, for Countdown! It was the mid 80’s and Beargarden, (fronted by the charismatic Sam Sejavka), and their single, I Write The News, burst onto the screen. I was instantly transfixed!
It’s always a risk to revisit idols of your past years later, and curiosity killed the cat, but hey, this cat still has at least 7 lives, so when I heard Sam was singing at Bowie – Changes Tribute, I couldn’t resist revisiting my preteen self!

So it was with curious anticipation that I ventured forth to suburbia. Lyrebird Cafe & Bar unobtrusively nestled among the Glen Eira Road shopping strip is cosy, with a slightly bohemian, welcoming feel. Now suburbia is not without its distance, so I missed the first couple of acts. The cafe was jammed with an assortment of Bowie and 80’s music devotees, some in standard glittery Bowie issue. Some faces were familiar but I couldn’t quite place them. Sam was yet to arrive.

The fourth act of the night,(my first), rapidly becoming a favourite, organiser Michael Plater, complete with glitter and eyeliner, opened with a very Bowiesque version of Diamond Dogs. Reminiscent of the Velvet Underground or The Triffids, Michael’s restrained edgy vocal then smashed Suffragette City, a difficult achievement for an iconic Bowie number. The crowd approved.

With ten acts and a set list including some of the lesser known Bowie numbers, the experience of the performers showed as they were able to quickly establish a rapport with the audience whilst limited to three songs each. The subdued vocal of Andrew McCubbin had the room in silence with his version of the under rated, Wild is The Wind. Another highlight was Melbourne four piece, Winter Sun, whose energetic version of, Fame got people dancing. The set ups were quick, the sets were tight and overall the night had a wonderful supportive feel from both the crowd and the other musicians.

With the last two acts to go, there was an almost imperceptible hum,”Sam’s here”, and all eyes were on the door. Dressed in a leopard print coat he quietly entered, and in doing so commanded the attention of the room. I don’t really know what I had expected but I still had that curious fascination. Guitar in hand, Sam and The Moth Body’s awesome guitarist, Donald Baldie accompanied unique vocalist and violinist, Bronwyn Adams. Then, the final act and my performance of the night, which included a brilliant version of, All The Madmen, the stage was Sam’s. A perfect finish! But the crowd, and the musicians wanted more, so all performers assembled on stage for a couple of impromptu Bowie numbers, a fitting finale.

As I turned to leave, I looked around and for a fleeting moment became that preteen fan once more, and I couldn’t help but smile!

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https://michaelplater.bandcamp.com/

https://themothbody.bandcamp.com/track/curious