Review: Underground Lovers

Melbourne’s Underground Lovers show why their 30-year contribution to Australian music should be more celebrated with a tightly-packed set of old and new material at the Garden of Unearthly Delights.

It is a substantial group of professional-looking experienced music fans that pack into the Fortuna Spiegeltent for the Adelaide leg of the Underground Lovers’ first national tour since the ‘90s. Two albums deep into their return (they took a break in 2002 and regrouped in 2009) and the band hasn’t missed a step on record or their occasional appearance on stage. Their unique brand of shoegaze with electronica and indie pop sensibilities has hit a creative sweet spot with their albums Weekend and Starting at You Staring at Me, which have consolidated their previous eclecticism into something you could almost call a signature sound.

The opening half of the set contains songs largely from their last two records as they fittingly kick off with the debut single from 2013’s Weekend, Au Pair, the track that signified their comeback sound, before playing the only Underground Lovers MK1 track of the first half, Feels so Good to Be Free.

It is a polite and appreciative audience that welcomes the opening stanza of predominately new Undies’ tracks such as The Rerun, Every Sign and St Kilda Regret (which features the cool detached vocals of Philippa Nihill). Despite the audience’s civility, the six-piece are in seriously electric form. They look to be enjoying themselves, too, especially frontman Vince Giarrusso who is dishing out amusing self-deprecating quips between tracks.

The audience finally reciprocates the energy from the stage when the second-half of ‘classic’ Underground Lovers tracks begin with their almost hits: Las Vegas and Losin’ It. The sound of the older tracks has been updated to replicate their current sound, which means it is a seamless transition from new to old. Even the band is moved. Giarusso admits the performance of Las Vegas has made him emotional before adding, “a bit wanky, I know”.

At just over an hour in length, Giarrusso promises they will play a looser pub show for their Adelaide return but the carnival-like atmosphere of the Spiegeltent suits the band, especially for tracks such as Las Vegas.

Over much too quickly, this was a seriously good show by a seriously good band. It confirmed that the Underground Lovers are still one of this country’s indie music gems.

The Underground Lovers played the Fortuna Spiegeltent on Sunday, February 25

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