– by Tom Munday
Timothy Nelson & the Infidels, Saturday 6 December, Odd Fellow
Supported by: The Belle Ends, Davey Craddock & The Spectacles
Many know West Australian hotspot Fremantle to be the epicenter of multi-cultural food markets, nightclubs, and Little Creatures. Indeed, all these go well together on a frenzying Saturday night. However, the port-centered city – covered in a cloud of food smells and sea salt – is, arguably, WA’s home of music. The Odd Fellow, situated in the Norfolk Hotel’s basement, is one of the state’s most unique and lively venues. Stepping down the steps into the abyss, the temperature rises tenfold and the atmosphere buzzes with excitement. The low-ceiling, high-intensity venue, supporting the packed bar area above, is one of Freo’s best-kept secrets. Giving off a hipster-but-not-really vibe, the place became an engaging mix of personalities and sounds.
The brick-plaster-and-dimmed-lights aesthetic, bolstered by posters and menu-boards, created a pleasant vibe. Early on, small groups were drawn to smaller tables. As the drinks flowed and ironic cowboy-outfit-attired 20/30-somethings wandered around the place, the bands were getting ready to shake everything up. Running well over schedule, each band’s set lists were given significant changes. Throughout the event, a bright, red afro was seen bobbing about above the crowd. The too-cool-for-school hair-do belonged, of course, to Timothy Nelson. In charge from go to woe, he took to the stage for a scintillating warm-up performance. Playing to one critic, a photographer, and tipsy folks, the artist deserved significantly more attention. Performing low-key Nelson hits, his solo prowess cements his immense local-music-industry status.
The opening act needed to stand up against Nelson without overshadowing him. The Belle Ends, from first glance, seemed like a group in complete contrast to its name. The husband/wife duo, however, turned into foul-mouthed and witty rock-stars the second they stepped up on stage. The black-clothed/tattooed folks Returning to the circuit six weeks after the birth of their third child, lead singer Phoebe Hamzah and guitarist Tim Hamzah became instant favourites with the crowd. Starting out with ‘Loserville’, the duo’s blues/rock sound reverberated through the basement venue. The group’s confident and energetic vocals captivated the dwindling crowd. Piercing through jazzy hits ‘Little Ant’ and ‘5pm’, our cute couple’s manic stage presence fluttered between with light-hearted tunes and dark, visceral overtones. Hitting ‘Have Mercy On Me, Baby’ out of the park, the Hamzahs’ passionate, strong-willed set elevated the already stirring atmosphere.
The next act, Davey Craddock & The Spectacles was pushed straight into the firing line. Setting up hurriedly, the group rushed into their true-blue set with break-up ballads and up-beat jaunts. Their second track, ‘Better Alone’, established a moody and powerful acoustic sound. Craddock, known for intense solo and group performances, pulled everyone in with his earthy, distinctive vocals. Between songs, however, the acclaimed singer/songwriter became an uber-polite/soft spoken presence. He must have apologized for technical hiccups once per track. The group’s next hits, ‘Right Brain Holiday’ and ‘Number 9’, highlighted haunting instrumentals and strong group dynamic. Hitting every high note with brute force, Craddock’s energetic performance amped-up the crowd. ‘100 Days’ and ‘Keep on Waiting’, two of many Craddock tracks about life and good times, made for standout blues/folk renditions. Switching between varying styles and instruments, Craddock and co. performed well despite restrictions.
As the clock ticked towards 11pm, the mosh pit filled up with eager fans and partygoers. Nelson, jumping on stage with his band mates, became an instant hit with the crowd. Collecting drinks for his friends, the enthusiastic headliner was eager to get started. The light, breezy ensemble launched heartily into signature track ‘Soldier’. Nelson’s eclectic and original vocals sent the audience into overdrive. Digging amicably into his keyboard, his manic performance established the band’s ultra-magnetic aura. Leading with purposeful mannerisms and that famed afro, Nelson wowed the crowd with his bright sense of humour and arresting stage presence. Throughout the gig, the award-winning singer-songwriter praised the state’s music scene – referring to home suburb Willetton for being the source of all this madness.
The WAM award-winning ensemble is one of the state’s most invigorating and lively acts. The group’s live performance style creates an undeniable glow similar to the country’s most popular bands. Flipping between varying instruments, Nelson controlled the situation by captivating his audience. Diving into the mosh pit throughout ‘Calling Out To You’, the leading man delivered the ultimate dance-floor experience. The band, bringing varying styles and motifs to the genre, is refreshingly difficult to pin down. Their blues/pop/rock style amicable suited the basement venue’s sweat-and-saliva-rich atmosphere. ‘Cocoa Jackson’ and ‘Out of My Mind’, jaunty standouts within this new-and-old-hit set list, delivered a spirited rhythm peppered by inspired riffs. The band’s warm, easy-going vibe – highlighting their new album Terror Terror, Hide It Hide It’s undeniable charm – lived up to expectations.
Diving into their new album’s biggest hits, the band’s outside-of-the-box flourishes, indie/mainstream balance, and eclectic melodies stand out from the pack. ‘All I Ever’ and ‘Inside My Head’ switched the compilation from blues/rock to an enjoyable electric vibe. ‘Do U Need It’, delivering a silky and effervescent jazz sound, heightened the ambience. Nearing the end of their acclaim-worthy set, the group launched into faced-paced and uncompromising hit track ‘Talk’. This immaculate 4/5-minute rendition got everyone up on the dance floor. Capping the night off with engaging new tracks ‘Marylou’ and ‘All the People’, Nelson and co. threw a blood-sweat-and-tears approach into it final few renditions. Jumping back on the dance-floor, Nelson led the crowd through chanting each chorus. Ultimately, as the crowd tumbled out and the bands patted themselves on the back, Nelson and co.’s all-to-brief set was worth the wait.
Photo Credit: Matthew Picken