The Panics @ The Hi-Fi

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Out 10 2011, 22h23

Fri 7 Oct – The Panics, Georgia Fair, Atlantic City


The Panics
The Hi-Fi, Brisbane
Friday October 7 2011

I adore The Panics. For mine, they're one of the most consistent Australian bands in existence. I've seen them a bunch of times in the last five years, and it's been a joy every time. Tonight is no different. They perform their songs faithfully and passionately. There's not much more to it than that - there probably never has been, for these five guys - yet it works so damn well. These are finely-crafted rock tunes that each set an immediate mood and flow smoothly into the next. Tracks from 2011 release Rain On The Humming Wire comprise the majority of their 16-song set, as well as six from Cruel Guards and a pair from 2005's Sleeps Like A Curse, in the title track and 'My Best Mistake'. The encore break sees singer/guitarist Jae Laffer and keyboardist Jules Douglas run through a beautiful version of 'In Your Head', from the 2004 EP Crack In The Wall.

What doesn't come across much on their records is how goddamn hard Myles Wootton hits the drums, most notably on the insistent newie 'Endless Road'. Paul Otway's bass notes and Laffer's piano chords coincide with Wootton's tom hits, and the effect is hypnotic. The drummer tosses several pairs of broken sticks throughout the set. I search my memory for any recollections of his seemingly obvious contributing factor toward the band's potency on stage, but come up short. Either they're still evolving as a band, or I'm still finding new things to love about The Panics despite being intimately familiar with their catalogue. Perhaps both.

Just three songs in, during 'Live Without', it becomes apparent just how much they're enjoying themselves. Five musicians in perfect sync, at the peak of their powers, enjoying a well-attended headline tour after releasing their fourth - and arguably, best - album. Brisbane is no different: it's practically a full room at the Hi-Fi tonight. Laffer thanks the crowd for their support over the years, and suggests that this city has been among their biggest supporters throughout the band's nine-year career. It doesn't scan as a platitude from a jaded rock singer; it feels real and heartfelt. Like everything that The Panics do.

A treat for Brisbane fans arrives toward the end of the set, when Laffer introduces Robert Forster to the stage (see video below). They cover 'Finding You', a track from the final Go-Betweens album, 2005's Oceans Apart. Laffer sings the first verse while strumming his acoustic guitar, then leaves the rest to Forster, who seems chuffed to be sharing the stage with these five gents from Perth. Spidery lead guitarist Drew Wootton rocks back on his heels while eking out the song's evocative solo, casting the occasional smile toward their 54 year-old guest. It's a classic Go-Betweens track - an optimistic, three minute-long pop narrative on love lost - which has the sad side-effect of reminding us that Australia lost one of its best bands when Go-Bs co-founder Grant McLennan died suddenly in May 2006. There's only joy in the room tonight, though: it's written all over Forster's face, and reflected back by the audience. At song's end, Forster says "Ladies and gentlemen - The Panics!" and embraces Laffer before departing. A few moments later, the singer remarks, "Ain't life grand?".

The Vine

Footage of The Panics and Robert Forster covering 'Finding You':

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