Playwrite Live on 11 April 2014

On Friday 11 April, our friends Playwrite celebrated their return from their ‘Lady Oracle’ single launch tour.

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Visually, Playwrite are always a treat and this time they did not disappoint. Backed by a full-size banner, the band presented in unified black t-shirts with individual hand-made pendents. Floating around them were eight of their characteristic triangle-base pyramids. Off stage the band were a five-member family. On stage they were a team.

Also notable was the sheer quantity of instruments and technology on stage. There were acoustic drums, electronic drums, hand percussion, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, two keyboard/laptop combos and a small army of effects pedals underfoot. Combined, the band were able to transcend typical indie-rock arrangements to add atmospheric synth-like textures and unidentifiable melodic additions.

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The energy on stage was undeniable. We might never know how much of it was a fine-tuned performance honed from an intense tour and how much of it was the uncontainable excitement of finally coming home. But it might never matter. Frontman Jordan delivered soaring melodies with perfect pitch, seeming never to run out of steam. Bassist Sonny and guitarist/keyboardist Caity couldn’t drop their grins for over an hour (one wonders at the workout their face muscles took). Lead guitarist Patrick was visibly lost deep inside his spinning guitar riffs and drummer Scott kept the energy up throughout the whole set.

And the energy spilled out into the audience. The venue Shebeen was packed with Playwrite’s adoring Melbourne audience. Even over a full amplified band, the audience was clearly audible singing along to every song. One fan shouted a welcome back to Melbourne early in the set. There were yells for an encore. And the love was clearly reciprocated. Jordan spoke on behalf of the band of the love they received and the deep appreciation of their fans’ support.

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Playwrite are a finely-tuned machine. They were tight last year, and they’ve returned even better. Across ten different instruments, they played together as one. They perfected every change, they struck every cue, they hit every note. The sound soared from the stage as if by magic. We could see them playing, but it almost sounded too good to be true. Even the vocal harmonies – at times with four different vocal parts – were almost flawless.

As usual, the band delivered their blend of tribal indie pop. Augmenting the standard drums, bass, guitar and vocals were a menagerie of samples, synthesisers, additional percussion and a touch of psychedelic effects. The songs span from vulnerable confession through heartfelt expression to insistent urgency. There’s something about the lyrics in particular that touch on feelings that are at once familiar and intangible. Like something emerging from a dream, the lyrics remind us of memories that may or may not have happened.

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By many measures, this was a model gig. The music was sublime. The energy on stage and off was infectious. The visuals were well-planned and effective. The audience were touched. The feeling was thick in the air. Everyone had an outstanding time and left the venue elated, even if a little worn out.

Playwrite truly put on a show to behold. If you haven’t seen them yet, make sure you don’t miss out next time.

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Playwrite are currently recording their debut album. Stay tuned.

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Photos by Obsessive Music