Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

The Clouds at the Corner, 11/5/24

Today was the day of the Clouds. The concert by the Australian rock group of that name, that is. They have time travelled from the 1990s all the way to the 2020s to fill our hearts, minds and ears with joy once again. Back at the Corner Hotel, Richmond, with the same lineup of Jodie, Trish, David and Raff. David is even wearing the same red country style shirt he wore at the last gig I saw them here in 2012 (check the photo, it’s from that concert). In fact, let’s start with my diary entry for that day:

Sat, 11/2/2012. Went to the Corner Hotel in Richmond for Clouds concert. Supports were a bit average. Ben Mason Band sounded a little like the Go Betweens, but needed some riffs. Full house. I’d forgotten how good the Cloudies were, though Jodie and Trish’s voices seemed to give out on them a bit near the end. It didn’t help that that was when they had some of their most challenging vocals – Ghost of Love Returned and Cloudfactory. Played pretty much all my favourites, except Never Say Forever. Took some photos and filmed a bit of their performance of Boy Of Air. They all looked pretty good. The years have been kind. Man, it’s been 15 years since I last saw them, at the Hi Fi Bar, their last Melbourne concert…Not much in the way of merchandise – no rare cd releases. A Clouds tea towel would’ve been nice, but at $15 too expensive. Home quite late, about 1.45am.

What, a $15 Clouds tea towel too expensive? Man, how broke was I back then! And where is this video I made of Boy of Air? Can’t find it anywhere. I found exactly one photo of the concert, and it’s the one featured in this review (I didn’t take any for tonight’s performance, for some strange reason).

Before I get ahead of myself, let’s talk about tonight’s support act, which was Rebecca’s Empire. Seems appropriate, since they were also a Nineties band. In fact, singer Rebecca Barnard said the last time they played together was in 2000. It was very much a family affair, with Rebecca on guitar, her husband Shane O’Mara on lead and their son, Connor, on drums. Connor, according to Rebecca, was not even born yet when she and Shane recorded their first RE album. Clearly enjoying being on stage again, and in front of a larger audience than she’s used to as a solo artist (‘I’m on all the social media platforms’, she quipped), Rebecca came on wearing a gaudy white tassled outfit, which she quickly took off after showing it off. A born performer, and still in fine voice, she and the band played through most of their more well-known songs, including Empty, In Deep and the excellent Atomic Electric. They finished with the crowd pleasing The Way of All Things, and they were gone.

It was a good way to start the show, and I have a confession to make. I actually went to school with Rebecca back in the day. All through primary school and the early part of high school, we were in the same classes. She was definitely in the ‘popular’ crowd (unlike me), and in high school she seemed to be heading for ‘plastics’ status (think the film Mean Girls). I know as a shy kid she was sometimes a little mean to me. I remember her singing back then, and everyone noted what a good voice she had. She was clearly destined for this kind of career. It was a nice existential moment seeing her again in this context. I remember the cute primary school girl she was. And the shy boy I was. And here we are…

After the support I settled into the crowd with a final beer, ready for the Clouds to come on. It was very much an older crowd, and I couldn’t help but notice a fair few ugly men with their attractive women. Seemed to be a bit of a trend, I couldn’t understand it. Single me was thinking, How come?

The Clouds quickly came on, with Jodie skipping across the stage to her mic stand, reminding me of Leonard Cohen at Rod Laver arena when he did that. They opened with Fear the Moon, from the first album, Penny Century, and sounded good. It was the same configuration as last time, with Jodie to our left, Trish to our right, and David taking the spotlight in the middle, with that damn shirt again. They all looked healthy and fighting fit.

As the show continued, it became apparent this was going to be all about the albums, including the mini album, Octopus. It was just the album singles and the album tracks, none of the EPs, like Cloudfactory, Beetroot or Aquamarine. The reason being they were promoting their albums box set. A guy behind me kept yelling for Wednesday Night, the great closing track from Penny Century, and thus a contender to be played, but they didn’t play it. Others wanted things like Cloudfactory or 4pm, but they had no hope.

A couple of the album tracks they played, like Cinnamon from third album Futura, and Kathy from second album Thunderhead, worked so much better live than on the albums. Trish mentioned Cinnamon was about vampires. Who knew? I guess it’s a metaphor. David seemed to use some weird synth pedal on his guitar to stand in for the horns on the song, and it made sense. Lots of people were grooving to Trish’s bass on Kathy, including one ugly man and his attractive woman right in front of me. It made so much more sense in this setting than it does as the album opener with its slow beat and scratchy guitar.

As usual, Trish cracked a couple of jokes between songs (always her thing), to varying success. The one about the snowman bears repeating (or not): what was the snowman doing in his garden? Picking his snows. Geddit? They started the encore with the epic Ghost of Love Returned, and as usual, some newbies clapped at the first false ending. The girls’ vocals were fabulous for this one, and Raff drummed up a storm at the climax. Bring on the rain…Last song was Souleater, which featured a crowd singalong, and they were gone.

It’s amazing how good they sounded, just like they did in the Nineties (and better than their 2012 outing). I didn’t hang around for signings or meetings, or merch. No tea towels for me – I had a train to catch. I must be getting old.

Thank you Clouds, you were great. See ya next time.

Related Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *