We’ve interviewed Mitch Booth before here at ech(((o)))es & dust. He was keen to get Sydney four piece instrumental/ visual progressive powderkeg Meniscus back to Melbourne before their European tour in a few weeks, so he became a promoter – as you would. For me, the thought of seeing Meniscus with Melbourne’s Laura at the Evelyn on the same bill was always going to be one that I counted down to. Throw in This Is Your Captain Speaking and a great night out was guaranteed. The only unknown quantity for me was opening band Lunaire, and after seeing them live I can’t wait for the next chance.

With a solid backdrop of droning, dark post-rock/metal guitar with pulled back vocals resting on top, these Melbourne shoegazers blasted out their take on a very UK/European sound with cues from My Bloody Valentine, Sigur Rós and a big serve of Alcest. First song “Warm Intentions” ran close to ten minutes with “Pale Beneath a Brilliant Sky” a similar length, each song rolling along with those wonderful vocals and plenty of long instrumental passages that kept heads bouncing throughout the crowd. The final, as yet untitled track, was a showcase of swirling crescendos, layered reverb, plunging whammy bar distortion and a bridge that ran longer than most songs on commercial radio. It’s the sort of epic finale that makes a set so memorable and the building crowd saw the four guys off with the appreciation they deserved.

This Is Your Captain Speaking gently broke into their stock-in-trade of long wandering dynamic post-rock songs that taunt you with their false crescendos as they rise and fall oh-so-gradually. Melodies were long and filled with emotion as they drifted through light and shade, each instrument part of a whole rather than taking turns to parade themselves. Luckily the security at the Ev don’t seem intent on throwing out anyone who closes their eyes to enjoy live music and more than a few punters leaned back into the long couches to lose themselves in some great guitar rock.

Imagine watching a slow blaze in a munitions factory. Having been lit, the flames lick the at the walls and fixtures, slowly building before they reach a stack of missiles, at which point one of the missiles launches, snaking out of control, screaming with its tail on fire into the crowd of onlookers. If you could read the name on the missile you’d find “Dan Oreskovic”, the guitarist and loopist in Meniscus, writ large on the side.

At their quietest, bassist Alison Kerjean morphed her lines from rhythm to melody and back as she led the songs– the flame in the factory fire if you like – “Cursed”, “130” and “Fight Club” being great examples. Until of course they hit the final minute or so and Dan exploded, sweat pouring from his face and body as he attacked his guitar, strumming furiously bent over backwards, twisting knobs, smacking the strings, dropping to his knees – anything but smashing it into the ground to create the explosion of sound.

, While all this was happening, Cameron Brennan created his ambient background of samples and precise, often military-sounding and always changing beats – none more important that the start of “Room 3327” that opened the set . Marty Wong provided the great visuals on the rear projection screen – a mix of nostalgia, nature and manipulated light that kept the continuity while Dan reset his pedal board between songs.

Closing the set was “Infant”, with it’s long cinematic build up and teasing false trigger point, and if you thought you had seen a guitarist on fire before, the finale saw Dan leap off the stage onto the floor surrounded by spellbound music lovers getting the closest possible view of pure energy. Back on stage he smashed out the noise before eventually dropping down to his pedals for some fading loops, twisting knobs and flicking switches while Cam and Alison left the stage.

Throughout the set the response from the crowd was enthusiastic and whether it was your first or fifth time you had seen Meniscus there would be something seriously wrong with you if you weren’t already thinking about the next time.

Laura have a well-earned reputation for a great live show and this time we were treated to a full set of eleven songs from four records stretching back almost ten years. It’s not just that the songs are so well written, or that the band are all such good musicians. With Laura there’s an incredible ability to be phenomenally loud, powerful and strong at the same time as being immeasurably detailed and heart-achingly fragile.

Starting with “Visitor”, it’s not long before the crowd is mesmerised by the building layers of sound starting with Nathan Biggin’s array of keys, synth and pads – the one constant, well almost constant, foundation of the set. With the wall of noise now joined by guitars, bass, cello and drums the pace continued with the shorter “Glint”, also off their latest record, and the brilliant “This Grey Earth”. Andrew Chalmer’s vocals were filled with despair and emotion. Wonderfully imperfect he captured what it is to be human.

Swapping and changing between records the body of the set showcased the variety of sounds Laura have played with over the years without letting the differences upset the flow. “Stone Seed” lost a lot of it’s folk feel, instead more harsh and cold while “Every Light” provided a moment of happiness and joy and you’d be forgiven for thinking Explosions In The Sky listened to it before they wrote “Postcard from 1952”. “Cardboard Cutout Robot Victim Hero Children” provided the highlight of the set, as Nathan set aside his keys to provide earthquaking guitar along with the bouncing rhythm, scales and arpeggios that led to an almighty racket.

As we reached the last tune it was clear that it had to be my favourite song of last year, “Mark The Day”, with it’s heart-wrenching cello, desperate vocals, and keys and guitar spread across the human range of hearing. Punters would have gone in with high expectations and Laura didn’t disappoint, soaring to anguished highs before plunging to despairing lows with astonishing intensity and I refuse to believe that anyone there was unmoved by the experience.

Once again the Evelyn had played host to a quartet of bands that complemented each other perfectly while sounding far from the same. The sound and lighting were perfect and the crowd appreciative and happy to be there to hear great music.

Posted by Gilbert Potts

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