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New Talk - photo by Adrian Thomson
New Talk - photo by Adrian Thomson

NEW TALK
TIME AND MEMORY ALBUM LAUNCH
THE RECHABITE
16 April
Photos by Adrian Thomson

The only place to be on the entire planet last Friday was The Rechabite for the launch of Perth band, New Talk’s, much anticipated sophomore album, Time And Memory.  The room was so packed with people from other bands and collectives, local record label bosses, promoters and managers that it’s amazing there was any room for ordinary punters like me at all.  The sense of anticipation was just about enough to blow the glass out of the venue’s high domed ceiling.  This could only go one of two ways — mission accomplished or slinking, career-ending disappointment.  It was one of those all or nothing moments for a band that had been away for a while and was now looking to make a statement.

…based on tonight’s performance, if there’s better still to come, I for one want to see how they’re going to do it, because tonight New Talk reached higher than they ever have before.

So, no pressure at all, then.

Beginning their set with the opening track from Time And Memory, ‘Red Tuesday’, the moody atmospherics of the initial movement, a tense arrangement of drums and vocals, chainsaw strokes of guitar, then bass, repeat, and into the crushingly perseverative thrash of the whole band hammering down on a single note…  By the time we were in that riptide, New Talk had washed away all expectations and set the bar higher, for themselves and their audience.  People were visibly stunned by the power of what they were hearing and seeing on stage.  ‘Red Tuesday’ is a song that’s been around for a while, but New Talk have never played it with quite the intent that they delivered it with tonight.  It was pummelling, intense, suffocating.  And it was only the beginning.

This was a whole new band on stage tonight.  Not the members, there’s been no change in New Talk’s line up since they were conjured into being around 2012 out of friendships they formed when they were kids.  And this is a band that could never survive any change in line up, each member is essential to their sound.  The difference tonight was they stood taller and played with more assurance and insight about their powers that I’d seen in past performances.  Don’t get me wrong, New Talk have always been one of Perth’s best live bands, if not the best, but tonight they transcended anything they’d done previously.

“It’s really good to see you,” said vocalist, Kiera Owen, at the close of ‘Red Tuesday’.  Of all the people I’ve seen fronting bands over the years, Owen is right up there.  She is a startlingly good performer and vocalist, one of those who, once she crosses the imaginary line between green room and stage, takes on this air of possession and exists in another world for 60-90 minutes.  It’s enthralling to see someone who can go within and draw so deeply on themselves in the creation of their art.  With those six words between ‘Red Tuesday’ and the next song in their set list, ‘A Good Man Is Hard To Find’, Owen signalled that she’d added another dimension to her performance tonight. As well as going within, she was there in the room right with us.  There was an outward dimension to Owen’s presence on stage tonight that took her from right up there to top echelon.

As their set unfolded, each song building on the last, raising the temperature of the room until it felt like we were being melted down and recast in a sonic cauldron, I realised what it was that New Talk were doing.  They were playing their new album in order from start to finish.  In recent years, that’s become a bit of a thing, usually some nostalgia act drawing in the punters by touring album X that they released a good while ago and know, because it sold massively and is still on high rotation in radioland, will go down well with their fans.  It’s rare to see a band do that with new material.  Even when they’re confident of the new recordings, most bands will still delve into their back catalogue to give the people what they want, not what they think they need. 

Playing Time And Memory in full tonight was a massive statement of intent on New Talk’s part.  It spoke volumes about their confidence in the new material and drew a line under their past.  Tonight, there was no looking back.  In terms of meeting audience expectations, it could have gone either way, but they were right to back themselves, this show was an absolute triumph.

The New Talk we saw tonight played with renewed confidence.  They brought to the stage a joyous energy that swept their audience up into their world for the 60 minutes they spent with us.  Everything about the New Talk that audiences have grown to love over the years was there.  Axel Carrington’s unique and, at times, manic take on how to play the guitar was on display in abundance.  Sara McPherson’s bass drove the songs along with power and precision.  Jamie Gallacher’s drums were a ubiquitous template for New Talk’s dynamics as they took us on a journey of soft, loud, loud, supersonic, soft.  New Talk is a band that can switch gears like no other.  Their songs depend on it for their existence and tonight they gave us a masterclass.

“Hope you’re having a good night,” Owen said to us part way through proceedings, “I am.”  How could we not?  New Talk were stupendously good tonight and with an encore comprising old favourites, ‘I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore’ and ‘Paul’, from their much loved debut album, A Handful Of Ash, they showed just how right they were to back themselves.  Every single track on Time And Memory is at least the equal of their previous output, which already was so very good.  Speaking to Around The Sound in the lead up to tonight’s launch, guitarist Axel Carrington said of Time And Memory, “It’s our best work, and it’s also reinvigorated us to think that there’s better yet to come.”  He was absolutely right and, based on tonight’s performance, if there’s better still to come, I for one want to see how they’re going to do it, because tonight New Talk reached higher than they ever have before.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

New Talk were supported by special guests Tether, Joni In The Moon and Ash Baroque.

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