Alex Lahey is coming. Get ready.
Betty & Oswald make a strange noise. It’s basically not the least bit obvious. There’s undeniable groove, there’s some weirdo inventiveness, they’re patently tinged with lunacy and should probably not be allowed out unaccompanied, and there’s no obvious tune anywhere in sight.
And yet – the whole thing is strangely and inexplicably attractive, luring you in like some strange siren call, inviting you to crash on their rocks without ever realising quite why.
An unusual musical experience. God knows there aren’t enough of them in the world.
Alex Lahey got a bit miffed earlier about lazy comparisons to a certain Melbourne artist, thus rendering it impossible for anyone not to wonder whether it’s true or not, and ensures that her name will get mentioned in the same sentence as Courtney Barnett for the rest of time. For the record though, it is indeed a lazy-ass musical comparison, like comparing a totem pole to a sandwich. Shame on you for even thinking it.
What she is though, on the very first night of her very first national headline tour, is a scalpel-sharp talent with a bag full of belters. This is one hell of a set.
Confidence just pours off the whole lot of them, with the boys in the band providing rock solid support to Lahey’s acid-tongue, flailing hair, throaty vocal, and prime-quality guitar-slinging. (Actual slinging btw – it’s been too long since I’ve seen a guitar properly slung, pointed high to the heavens, taut on its strap.)
As well as stage gusto, the songs get right up in our faces too, with much of the audience well and truly off theirs. By the time “Let’s Go Out” is played, its chorus is way redundant – this lot are already well gone.
All the released tracks get an airing and what strikes the most is just how much more urgent they are live, raw and tugging on the leash. Lahey’s voice has slipped its minders too – where its got more than a hint of a sardonic smile on record, here it’s a bellow and strips the glass out of the windows. “Wes Anderson” in particular sets the tone early on, menace and joy in equal measure, with a lot of the best lines of the night crammed into a few short verses.
This tour’s clearly not here just to play the records either – we get a few unreleased ones tonight, including one about Perth, that may or may not be complimentary about the city. I couldn’t tell.
Set-closer and song-title clickbait “You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me” – regrettably abbreviated on their setlists to YDTYLPLM – is a an absolute beast, fuzzy and a bit cross, but incapable of not having a little dance anyway. Which is also a pretty accurate description of where the audience ended up.
For a first headline tour, this is barkingly good. That you must get to a date on this tour should be obvious. Just don’t mention CB-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, ok?
FULL PHOTO GALLERIES
Betty & Oswald