The Jezabels

Synthia To Suburbia: The Jezabels at The Chelsea Heights Hotel

Melbourne is often considered to be the music capital of Australia, but mostly these gigs take place in the CBD or in surrounding inner suburbs. It’s very rare that you’ll see a gig from current artists being held far away. As part of Urban Spread, The Jezabels and support Alex Lahey trekked out to the suburbs of Edithvale and Mulgrave for what was a great night of music.

Alex Lahey warmed the stage, opening with her debut single Air Mail. I’ve seen Alex perform a number of times in the last six months, and it’s always a fun and refreshing experience. She’s an incredibly likeable person and an amazing songwriter. Her set was divided mostly between her 2016 release B-Grade University and songs from her upcoming album, slated for release later in the year, although she took a moment to comment that this was the first time she’d ever played a venue that had also hosted kickboxing and a Shannon Noll concert. I only wish that more people had turned up early to catch her, but she had a solid group of diehards singing along with her in the front row to songs like Ivy League and her major key You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me. Lahey also announced that this would be the last in a string of local shows, as she was off to support Tegan and Sara on their UK tour. Watch this space: DJ Al Dente, her moniker when DJ battling her mum, is about to go global.

The main act began shortly after. Opening with Stand and Deliver the lead track off their third LP Synthia, The Jezabels were met with subdued cheers and applause. As front woman Hayley Mary swaggered onto stage, looking every bit the rockstar she is, it was great to see the band on stage. The band originally planned to tour early 2016, but were forced to reschedule when it was revealed that pianist and keyboardist Heather Shannon had been battling ovarian cancer. The band came roaring back late last year, and returned to Melbourne again with this short run of shows. Mace Spray, perhaps one of their most well known songs followed, as Mary commented on how civilised and polite the audience was. Aside from a small group of people in the front shoving people out of the way, who were subsequently ejected from the venue, the audience seemed happy to just bask in the glow of the band. A cut off their latest Smile was met with cheers from the female members of the audience, as Mary stared daggers into the crowd as she sang “Don’t tell me to smile,during their anthem against street harassment united as the audience sang right back at the band.

“Do people still dance on a Friday night? This is a dance song” she teased, as fans cheered expecting to hear Time To Dance. Instead, they launched into Look of Love which received cheers and sing-a-long treatment from fans. Racing through hits like Endless Summer and Easy To Love, blended with new cuts My Love Is My Disease and Pleasure Drive, it served as a reminder to just how solid this band are live, and the hefty back catalogue they’ve already amassed.

Technical problems hindered the beginning of Hurt Me as tech staff arrived on stage to fix this issue, Hayley Mary headed into the crowd. One audience member received a kiss from the Sydney songstress, and many more were given warm hugs. During the song, once everything was fixed, Mary mounted the barrier, clinging to a man named Jim, whom she thanked for holding her up as she sang. Jim seemed to then request an older track, but after conferring with Heather, drummer Nikolas Kaloper and guitarist Samuel Lockwood, they joked they had simply forgotten how to play whichever song Jim was requesting.

The night came to a close with A Little Piece and the always fitting The End. Pub gigs used to be all the rage in Australia in the 1970’s, and if bands like The Jezabels keep on putting shows like this, I feel a resurgence coming on.

Photo: The Jezabels’ Website