When reviewing one of the greatest bands in the world, it’s important to keep a level head and not let your own bias get in the way. That being said, Os Mutantes at The Forum on Friday was possibly the single greatest thing ever. That’s right, ever.
On their first trip to Australia, Os Mutantes (now featuring only two of their original members) are a band whose name is familiar only to a small portion of the community, yet their influence sprawls far and wide (famous scientologist and musician, Beck, claims them as his greatest influence). Forming in Brazil in the early 60s, they helped shape the then oncoming wave of US psychedelic music for years to follow.
Opening the night were Melbourne outfit Otouto (pr. oh-toe-toe, Japanese for ‘little brother’), whose penchant for sparse arrangements, time changes and unique hooks got the crowd moving in preparation for what was to follow.
Californian surf/garage pop outfit Best Coast were next on offer. Initially it appeared like quite a treat having both the bands here on the one night. However, Best Coast seemed to lack the energy of their debut album Crazy For You. Foxy front-woman Beth Cosentino was a grunge goddess, while multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno and drummer Ali Koehler seemed so aware of this that they made no effort to be noticed. Standout tracks such as ‘Boyfriend’, ‘When I’m With You’ and ‘Crazy For You’ went down well with the crowd, but you couldn’t help noticing that every new song sounded like a slight variation of the last.
Os Mutantes’ stage entrance could be compared to that of a religious ceremony. Adorned in capes and long dresses, peace seemed to emanate from them. There aren’t many times where I feel as though I’ve been teleported back to the times of free love, drum circles and daisies but tonight, I was definitely in hippy-land and loving it.
Performing their material tighter than ever, Os Mutantes moved through their set with such ease and professionalism, each member of the band being absolutely vital to the overall sound. Their interesting combination of psychedelic pop, samba, bossa nova, cascara rhythms and rock conventions is a sight to behold as they move seamlessly through time and key changes.
Sergio Dias was the consummate front man, exclaiming at one point ‘let’s see how you Aussies dance in the bush!’ and pronouncing his love of ‘our Julia’ (Gillard). His wizard-like guitar skills were ever present in songs such as ‘A Minha Menina, Querida Querida’, and especially during his five-minute guitar solo paying homage to Eric Clapton in a rendition of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’. Also on display were their wonderful 5 part harmonies in songs such as ‘Technicolour’ and ‘Virginia’, these were usually led by new mum Bia Mendes (who got some congratulatory applause from the audience after Dias informed us of the ‘new arrival’).
All the while, the smiles never left the collective faces of Os Mutantes nor the audience.