Despite the fact that it was a mid-autumn evening in Collingwood, one could be forgiven for thinking we were still enjoying the long nights of summer on the coast as they entered the Grace Darling Hotel for Tin Sparrow’s sold-out show.
Leaving the unseasonable balminess outside, folk fans gathered on the floor like well-behaved school children in anticipation of the Sydney four-piece, in Melbourne as part of their East Coast EP tour.
A rather sombre tone was set by local artist Jumpin’ Jack William, who managed to get through his set in spite of initial technical difficulties – a broken guitar string followed by an out of tune backup guitar. Hidden behind his hair, Jack’s emotive voice echoed through the crowd and silenced those who entered from the rowdy bar downstairs.
Picking up the mood were the lovely boys and girl from Buckley Ward. Another Melbourne act, these kids released their sophomore album the previous day and are set to embark on a national tour of their own. Judging from their performance at the Grace, it should be a fun few weeks for band members and audiences alike. Frontman Jimmy isn’t afraid of a bit of banter, (even though he opened with telling the audience: “I’m not ready to talk yet”) and the band has such a good rapport on stage that they’re engaging before the music has even begun.
At one point guitarist Justin even jokes, “We’ve also got a comedy album. It’s pretty shit.” Their music, however, isn’t shit; far from it. With dreamy vocals and catchy pop melodies, the crowd were into it right away. Quite aptly self-described as “folk-electro cross over” Buckley Ward have some synth-heavy tracks that slip into pop just enough to still please an indie crowd. Introduced as their “hit single, though you’ve probably never heard it,” title track, “So Pretend” is a winner with the young audience with its infectious rhythm and sweet riffs. With such good vibes at the end of their set it’s almost easy to forget that the headliner is yet to play.
Tin Sparrow, like any good folk band, is fresh from the road after driving from Sydney to Melbourne that day. Perhaps fatigue was getting to them as it was all a little subdued on stage as they introduced their song, “My Own”. With its road-trip-song quality, it was a fitting opener and its sunshine-y hooks had the patrons on their feet and bopping away. It’s always refreshing to hear some good use of organ and the beautiful Sonja does just this when they play “Azzuro”. Her well-rounded, feminine vocals contrast well with those of Matt, Dean and Marc, and result in some sublime harmonies in “Bricks”. Their emotion in this song makes up for any awkward banter in the beginning and draws the audience in, as if this song was written just for them.
Sonja’s angelic yet powerful voice has the power to cut through the room and left many of the fans with their eyes fixed only on her.
An unlikely venue for an encore, it seemed Tin Sparrow were genuine when they said, “We really hadn’t planned for this” as the eager crowd coaxed them into one last song. Not a band to let their fans down, lead singer Matt chose to go acoustic as they played a unique rendition of “The Boat” from 2011’s “From The Sun” EP.
As all four band members stood at the front of the stage, almost like a choir, Matt lead them on his unplugged guitar through a very intimate performance. As Tin Sparrow gracefully bowed out for the night, the grateful audience were forced to come back to reality; the bright and warm music had stopped, the cold wind had begun to blow outside, and it was time to don their coats and head off – at least, now with a spring in their step.
– Monique Sebire