intoxicating in the most sobering way!

Photo by Maclay Heriot

Photo by Maclay Heriot

The Paper Kites @ Taronga Zoo, Sydney NSW Australia 02/03/2019 written by Brendan Lewis.

Ah, what a fine night it is to relax and be filled with exquisite musical flavours that leave you intoxicated in the most sobering sense possible, all the way on the train ride home, to on the corner where you live. You may know from my previous reviews, that I have Synesthesia, a rather groovy phenomenon basically meaning ‘a blurring of the senses’. The strand of Synesthesia in question, means I see colours when I hear music, differing in colour depending on the music’s tone. Some people with Synesthesia, literally taste different flavours depending on a particular name, sound etc, that they hear. So, let’s see if my aural and oral palate’s are aligned tonight…… Hopefully not literally, just in case the music sounds like crap! I somehow doubt I’ll be tasting crap however, (the fact that I’m blind and the toilets are placed RIGHT NEXT to some food vendors next to the stage doesn’t help the case) as I reviewed The Paper Kites’ latest album ‘On The Corner Where You Live’ last September. This album filled me with flashes of sophisticated and exquisite flavours and depth, swirling around with colours like neon crimson, and a bright red light. Entrancing, calming and intoxicating me, traits I find in my collection of whiskeys, melting me with a deep burn blue.  I also had the pleasure of chatting to the young-renegade from The Paper Kites last year, Dave the bands guitarist, who told me the band aim to create special memories with their audiences at their shows. So all this said, I think tonight as a soft breeze flows through the pleasantly thermostated night sky here at Taronga Zoo, no, crap is not likely going to be tasted!

Well, I guess there’s only one good way to start this off then, bottoms up!...

The silence is met with an old-fashioned musical TV-stylised intro to set a unique and captivating essence straight up. The first song to my delight, is one of my personal favourites, ‘Red Light’. Lead singer Sam’s gentle and soothing vocals glide smoothly through entrancing plucking-guitar melodies and complementing rhythm guitar, both with the perfect level of reverb to help resonate beautifully within me. When I interviewed Dave last year, he said this song is probably the best representation of the band naturally, as they recorded the song straight up as the band all performed the song with no fancy post-recording editing to it. So it’s little wonder that this song here tonight, is a perfect representation of it, and like the recorded version, fills me with a stunning, calming warmth not harsh on the palate at all, resembling a smooth (and bit too expensive for my price range) single-malt Japanese whiskey. As the song progresses and reaches its full potential, driven by the drummer Josh’s great use of all the drums at his disposal to create subtle yet elaborate patterns, (like a subtle yet crucial hint of spice in a whiskey) Sam moves and sways around (as if he too is intoxicated by the music,) as he plays his instrument, adding a complementive visual aspect to the performance.

‘Red Light’ is a perfect opening song to set the precedence for the evening I find, brilliantly followed up by another one of my personal favourites, ‘Deep Burn Blue’. The sparkly guitar melodies that instigate ‘Deep Burn Blue’ send a rush of excitement throughout the crowd, hitting our palates with an intense exhilarating flavour, like a matured sweet spice (any whiskey enthusiasts will understand how a spice can be also sweet on the palate). The way Sam’s vocals are warm and delicate in the most parts, then rises in pitch to portray the felt emotion is received excellently, like the perfect accompaniment of vanilla and caramel to the spice in a Scotch whiskey.

Like whiskey, tonight’s performance exhibits many sophisticated elements, which I find like whiskey, even if you don’t particularly like one, you can at least appreciate its complexity. Some exhibit lush flavours of honey, caramel and maple that uplift and excite the palate, these analogical elements found in songs like the lush and uplifting vibrance of ‘Revelator Eyes’. Others, like ‘Only One’ and ‘Arms’ are more potently intoxicating, defining and highlighting a single key element, in this case with the absence of drums and bass, it’s the vocals. As if Sam’s exquisite voice wasn’t intoxicating enough as it were, the addition of accompanying vocals, two others it sounds like, perfectly complement and assist one anothers rich complexity stunningly! Songs like these remind me of cocktails, you have to be careful, as they’re so easily consumed in copious amounts and before you know it, you’re on your ass! Other songs like ‘When It Hurts You’, ‘A Gathering On 57th’ with its exotic horns that spike your attention and ‘Give Me Your Fire, Give Me Your Rain’ are decadent, warm, rich and full flavoured. I find these songs, as recorded and here tonight, are like a whiskey I once had, Glenmorangie - The Quinta Ruban. This whiskey was smooth and had endulgent chocolate and mint flavours, and was matured in a sherry cask to give it a richer depth. And like chocolate flavoured alcohol, this song is consumed to its fullest by the audience! Other songs are with a stick-out flavour. In the whiskey world, I would say this is a lot like a peated whiskey, some love the peated taste, some hate it as it is very strong. I find the unique folk taste of ‘Woodlands’ is a bit like this, although I appreciate it, I can’t say it’s my personal favourite. And the final element that I find apparent, is some darker more heavy-hearted songs in tone, with almost sorrowful yearning vocals within them like ‘Don’t Keep Driving’ and ‘Too Late’. These songs melt your heart in a different way to some of the other musical flavours at hand, these songs are a bit smokier, a bit fiery and warmer on the palate. Although you might not prefer a “harsher” smokey-toned whiskey, I find when tasting an assortment of whiskeys, these flavours are crucial to keep the flavours diverse and to leave a more rich lasting impression on your palate.

From start to finish, all songs are brilliantly blended by the sound mixer, so as Sam’s vocals can be the key focal element whilst still letting the other sounds entice the audience. And all flavours served with a generous array of pleasant, humourous and intimate chats with the audience by Sam to help give the evening that special touch.

Ok people, final call, we’re closing up now!

I find that like alcohol, whichever you prefer, music is quite intoxicating and provoke different emotions. However, unlike alcohol, I find the more intoxicating the music and overall performance is, the more intact and lasting the memory of it is, and I doubt anyone here tonight will be forgetting it anytime soon!