Two years ago I travelled to the antipodes to partake in a semester of study in a foreign climate. Australia wasn’t my first choice; it’s most western and isolated city Perth, was not a place I knew very much about. I went with a hopeless abandon – somewhere new, somewhere unknown, and somewhere exciting. My time there was spent meeting new people, a lot of beach bathing, copious consumption of boxed wine and a tiny bit of studying. For all those who know me, it took me a while to shut up about it – I loved it. While I was in Perth, there were bits of the culture – the way people spoke, the opinions they held, the way they behaved – that suggested there was something going on there. I picked up a hint of the creativity seemingly sprouting up from within that city and that nation – sculpture exhibitions on its sandy beaches, provocative street art down its back alleys. It wasn’t until I came back to Scotland and listened to Tame Impala (no other recent album has surprised me so pleasantly as the first time I listened to Innerspeaker) and the stream of singers, songwriters, bands and artists flowing from down under – Pond, Jagwar Ma, San Cisco – that I realised there must be some kind of cultural revolution going on down there. I’ve tried to get to the bottom of it through my own musings and asking those coming straight from the place itself, but I’m still not sure why Australia’s dry plains are such a fertile provider of musical creativity.
And so, there I was, standing in a dark room in wet and windy Glasgow experiencing first hand yet another of the southern hemisphere’s artistic spoils. The Preatures, from Sydney, came on stage to a crowd that had halved in size since the departure of the previous, locally sourced support acts. Coming from a sunny place where they are championed by the country’s most supportive radio station, Triple J, and fresh from having their biggest hit remixed by a critically acclaimed electronic act, it had to have been disconcerting seeing a small room made to look spacious by how few people were sauntering into it.
As such, they began with as much enthusiasm as their surroundings would allow, but it seemed like a flat start. It is amazing what a small, unassuming Glasgow crowd can do to dent the confidence of a band that is being championed fervently in their native land. Frontwoman Izzi Manfredi, bizarrely clad in an all white costume of spandex, skirt, socks and trainers, as if she was playing the women’s Wimbledon final rather than a rock show, tried to get the crowd going from the off but her first serve was a fault. They were probably further hampered by the fact that they were reaching these shores pre-album release, and so many of these initial songs were falling on fresh ears. The Preatures definitely lost the first set.
The Preatures two most attention grabbing releases to date come in the form of 60s inflected Jefferson Airplane-style woozy vocals and tight riffs, but the majority of the early part of their set seems to have more of a shout along indie pop/rock feel, possibly hinting at the direction of their upcoming debut full length studio album. Their playing cannot be faulted, and the songs are fun.
Ultimately, my decision to lean towards the positive end of the spectrum when reviewing the gig turns on the fact that they covered David Bowie’s ‘Five Years’ midway through the set. The fact it was done well, and also kickstarted the crowd, the band and the whole gig, was bound to win me over. Who told these guys I love Bowie so much?
The cover was impassioned and the songs seemed to liven in energy and quality from then on. This was helped by the fact that their two best songs, ‘Better Than It Ever Could Be’ and ‘Is This How You Feel?’ were saved for the latter half of the set. While this particularly bottom heavy gig took a while to get going, the most impressive aspect of The Preatures’ performance came in the interplay between the band members and their enthusiasm despite coming out to a cold welcome. It is arguable whether The Preatures can attain the kind of plaudits that the likes of Kevin Parker of Tame Impala or Jagwar Ma have, but that judgement must be held off until they release an actual album. On the evidence of this show, they at least have the ability to play well and entertain and, because of that, the lasting feeling of their first Glasgow visit was of enjoyment and success.