Music has an ability to create an atmosphere that transports the listener away to another place in a way that is never short of astounding. Melbourne folk quintet The Paper Kites proved just how effective this could be when they released last year’s late night concept record twelvefour, with every song composed during what they saw as the peak creative hours between midnight and 4AM, full of moody themes and soundscapes.
On Thursday night the band continued with the late-night concept, launching their ‘Midnight Tour’ at Sydney’s grand old Enmore Theatre.
Billed as an “immersive experience…in which the audience will view the stories of a single night with the band providing the soundscape”, the stage was flanked by four screens that resembled apartment windows, causing an air of apprehensive excitement as the venue slowly filled.
Local rockers I Know Leopard opened proceedings for the night, their spacey ambiance providing the perfect contrast to the headliners. Opening with the title track from their latest EP Another Life, the band seemed shaky to begin with but slowly found their groove before Spaceships saw them weld together and become inseparable as a unit for the rest of the set.
They showcased an array of new material before closing with the one-two punch of Close My Eyes and Perfect Picture. The blissful and melodic lines allowed the mind to wander, beautifully setting the stage for what was to come.
As the lights dimmed, an image slowly appeared through one of the windows showing a couple having a silent argument in their apartment room. It was with this in the background that The Paper Kites took to the stage. Rather than kicking straight into high gear, the band opted for a gentle introduction, with all five members of the band crowding around the one microphone and performing an acoustic rendition of Halycon, stunning the audience into complete silence. From there, the band split off onto their own instruments and settled into Turns Within Me, Turns Without Me, the steady bass groove slowly rousing the audience from their sleepy trance.
“I don’t really want to talk much tonight…but I love talking to people usually” frontman Samuel Bentley admitted after the first set of songs. The silence from the band throughout the show projected the audience’s attention onto the images on the screen, which displayed the disorder of a broken relationship and the ventures of the two subjects of the story as they worked through their feelings for one another.
As the band played through early cuts Kiss The Grass and Arms, the projections in the windows moved from right to left, with each window revealing a different character in the lives of the couple. One window revealed the dancing partner of the male of the relationship, with the choreography in their studio matching perfectly to the heartbreaking groove of Too Late. In another window, an artist who goes on to meet the female at a party depicted in the fourth window is shown, with their unsteady emotions captured as the band provided their duo of hit singles from last year in the sublime Electric Indigo and Revelator Eyes as the soundtrack.
As the emotions hit their darkest point for the protagonists, all the lights of the theatre dimmed, and the band performed Neon Crimson and Tin Lover in complete darkness. Aside from the amazing effect of being in a room of a thousand people in pitch black, the fact that the band were able to aptly play their parts in the dark was nothing short of remarkable.
As the story in the windows came to an end, the couple realising their true feelings for one another, the main set of the night concluded, with Bleed Confusion and The Mortal Boy King bringing the show to a close. As the band returned for the encore, Bentley thanked the crowd for “letting us try something different”, before The Paper Kites came full circle, gathering around the same microphone as the start of the show, and singing a stripped back version of Bloom.
The Midnight Tour is tough to digest at first. Gone are all the bands big singles, replaced with more obscure cuts which compliment the running theme of the night; however, the ambition of the tour has been a worthwhile investment for The Paper Kites and I left the Enmore Theatre feeling genuinely moved by the raw emotion that was visually presented with such tenderness.
Thank goodness The Paper Kites were there to provide the soundtrack.
Read our interview with The Paper Kites.