Closure in Moscow
The Garage, Highbury – 10th November 2015
Exploding ferociously on to one of the smallest stages in the capital come a band as exciting and off the wall as they are well honed and engaging. Barely large enough to contain their five members, let alone when they start pumping and gyrating with a visceral intensity, the modestly proportioned performance area positively throbs as effortlessly charismatic frontman Christopher de Cinque and his bandmates tear through a blistering, ear melting set.
De Cinque conducts proceedings with the easy, unashamedly off-beat quirkiness of a slightly unhinged master of ceremonies. At various interludes he entertains the crowd with lewd banter alluding to rainbows issuing from genitalia, before later enticing a round of applause for “everyone’s mums, because they’re awesome”. Strutting across the front of the stage, making full use of his boxy surroundings, he at once makes this intimate performance feel like a stadium rock show while losing none of the connection that makes this brand of gig so engaging for the assembled diehards.
Clad in a neon pin-striped suit and bedecked with a sparkling array of heavy jewellery, he resembles a modern day glam-rock Jesus, preaching relentlessly from his pulpit as a rapturous audience watches on with a cult-like devotion. Certainly the delirious whooping and cheering that follows every song, without exception, points to the level of adoration the band inspire in their faithful following. Even the great showman de Cinque appears embarrassed by the volume of vocal worship, his humble silence only prompting further waves of ever-louder reverence. “I know we’re sick, but come on, this is ridiculous!”, he exclaims at one point.
But this is by no means a one-man outfit. Bassist Duncan Millar and drummer Salvatore Aidone thump and pluck they way through some outrageously funky rhythmic arrangements as exhibited on Neoprene Byzantine and Seeds of Gold, while guitarists Mansur Zennelli and Michael Barrett seem to be constantly vying for centre stage with some full throttle, smoothly intertwined riffs and whirlwind solos that leave many of the crowd looking visibly weak in the knees.
Tonight’s set is largely built upon the foundations of 2014’s sprawling psychedelic/prog-rock odyssey Pink Lemonade, with offerings from their 2009 debut First Temple thrown in much to the delight of their assembled fans, who whip themselves into a sweaty frenzy to well loved classics including raucous opening combo Sweet#hart and Vanguard, as well as Afterbirth, Kissing Cousins and Night at the Spleen.
The Australian five piece ramp up towards a propulsive finale with the groove-heavy, anthemic Church of the Technochrist, which showcases the band’s natural proclivity for gospel-like pageantry and riotous choral hooks at its zenith. The mid-track breakdown even audaciously weaves in the immediately identifiable vocal outro from Michael Jackson’s Wanna Be Starting Something. The incendiary set closes with a boisterous rendition of Happy Days, which the band rattle through with delighted fury, prompting both audience and frontman to maniacally pump fists into the air. To be fair, it’s difficult to resist the temptation.
As the metaphorical curtain falls there are the usual impassioned calls for an encore, but with such an emphatic closer there seems little need. “Until next time”, de Cinque signs off. There will be many in the packed confines of the Garage hoping that it won’t be too long.
Words: Henry Wickham