I WAS THERE | GYPSY AND THE CAT @ HOWLER – 25.3.16
Taking their latest single ‘In Your Mind’ on the road alongside a handful of classic and fresh material, Gypsy and the Cat hit the stage at Melbourne’s Howler for a Friday night of synth pop thrills.
Lanks provided the live support for the night. Backed by members on drums and synths, he took centre stage with guitar and vocals to lead the audience through dream like set. His older, more acoustic styled material played well into the opening of the set. While the new material slipped in built up the atmosphere, it was a rendition of his collaboration with Newcastle’s Just a Gent ‘Heavy as a Heartbreak’ that stood out. The penultimate track was enthusiastically received and contained a dance floor leaning energy that transferred well revealing the best of Lanks’ potential to hold a commanding presence on stage. The set closed on ‘Golden Age’ which was excellently performed, but felt the effects of an audience less familiar with it.
When Gypsy and the Cat took to the stage, there was unkempt enthusiasm for the pair. The set up was simple with Lionel Towers taking care of keys on one side of stage, a support drummer on the right and Xavier Bacash taking front and centre. Bacash and Towers had an organic and delightful charisma between the two of them, laughing and joking between themselves and the crowd between tracks. But it was without a doubt the performance that stole the show.
Opening on ‘Human Desire’, it took a moment to get into the set. A pairing of known and loved tracks set the scene perfectly but it was straight after this that Bacash informed the audience the night would be heavy on new material. With their third album, Virtual Islands set for release in July it was unsurprising that the new material had a satisfactory degree of polish present. The yet to be released material slipped perfectly into that of their previous two albums playing nicely into the synth pop styles so dominant in the twenty tweens. ‘Paris’ proved to be a strong piece, playing like a homage to their hit ‘The Piper’s Song’ teasing a familiarity in the upcoming release that should keep fans pleased, despite the largely quite time between albums. The set list was well constructed, with the bulk of the set being focused around unreleased it was nice to have classics thrown in a balanced manner to keep engagement levels high.
It’s rare to see such a fan willingness to get behind fresh material as was present in this set. It was clear to see that those present in the room were long term fans of the band, yet they displayed an enthusiasm towards the fresh content rarely found surrounding established artists. The upcoming track ‘Red Wine and Cigarettes’ scored an easy sing along response, with Bacash leading the audience through its simply yet catchy lyrics. The cause of the tour, ‘In Your Mind’ a track that stands more than comfortably recorded came out into its own when played live. It filled the room in an amazing manner, and made you feel as if you have known the track for years. After the brief respite of an encore, the band returned to the stage for one last hoorah. Closing the night on ‘Time to Wander’ left you noticing the beloved tracks they missed, but it was a small flaw. The high impact synthy vibes came across in an overly infectious manner giving you a bubbly feeling though out the play. It was hard not to spot a grin in the room, and like the sole individual riding a fans shoulders it became abundantly clear that Gypsy and the Cat are rising to new heights with their upcoming material. It’s hard to doubt that Virtual Islands is set to be a successful album, and we can only hope it is followed through with a soon to occur album tour.
By Ayden Measham-Pywell
Photos by Michael Prebeg