Live review: Thieves, Aug 3 @ Beach Road Hotel

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, there are worse places to be than the Beach Road Hotel. Bondi sunshine floods the courtyard and with a beer in hand and Thieves playing in The Backyard it is easy to forget we’re in the depths of winter. After making a name for themselves at live venues around Sydney, Thieves have played with a wide range of acts including Big Scary, Children Collide and The Snowdroppers. Today the four-piece from Sydney warm the crowd with tender songs about lonely boys and an earnest desire to find beauty in the world.

The Backyard at the Beach Road Hotel is a colourful courtyard filled with cacti and the perennially tan enjoying a Sunday session. Against a fitting backdrop of a Wyoming desert landscape, Thieves’ sound is rich and raw, filling the afternoon crowd with rambling nostalgia. Combining a diverse and shifting vocal range with full, Decoder Ring style accompaniment to form their own blend of folk-rock, Sydney band Thieves have been performing together since 2010. They have a reputation for putting on wild shows with amped up energy and a powerful stage presence, but today their style is mellow and sometimes mournful. Thieves blend into the background of Sunday conversations, slip into stories told with drinks in hand, fill tender silences with a pause for hand-holding. Singer/songwriter Thomas Keating writes lyrics heavy laden with soul and longing. On stage he can switch between crooning vocals with an Angus Stone sensitivity to a powerful growl that quiets the room. I rest my head on my hand and close my eyes at the table.

Their set is semi acoustic, with a range of instruments on stage including a stomp box instead of a drum kit. I immediately have a smile on my face at the sight of a harmonica, which adds another layer of depth and warmth to the set. Tracks from their upcoming album, such as the dreamily  melancholic “Camera Phone”, are played alongside older songs to create a captivating soundscape to accompany the sunshine, with peaceful lulls and intense climaxes.

Thieves are currently recording an album, following a couple of EPs and single releases over the past few years. It is always impressive to see a band that builds its following based on live shows, and while the Sunday session with Thieves certainly didn’t disappoint it would be a treat to see them in their element on a larger stage with a lively crowd.