The Superjesus were one of the bands that encapsulated the post grunge sound of the 90’s and were Australia’s own to boot. A successful one night only show in their hometown of Adelaide sparked a national tour, that has brought them to Melbourne for two nights at the stalwart Espy.
The Espy is bursting with punters, generating enough body heat to create a sauna, belieing the deathly cold winter’s eve outside. Jackson Firebird are also hotting things up on stage, melting away the winter blues with their brand of smouldering rock. The sheer intensity and volume is astounding for two dudes up on stage; Brendan Harvey on guitar and Dale Hudak on drums make enough noise to sound like a four piece. Some may say Jackson Firebird are Australia’s answer to the White Stripes crossed with the Black Keys.
“Say go motherfuckers” implores Harvey resulting in a half hearted attempt from the crowd. “Louder!” and the crowd obeys, which prompts the duo to belt out their trademark tune “Cock Rockin.” For “Bottle Bin” Hudak hits a miked up bottle bin with the palms of his hands, with such force that one wonders whether he has health insurance for hand fractures? It is wild and unfathomable for those witnessing this for the first time. Despite the intensity of their playing, Harvey and Hudak leave the stage unscathed and the throng of die hard Superjesus fans, transfixed.
The wait in between sets is palpable. Heightened by the ten year hiatus of the band. Sarah McLeod is resplendant in black; tank top, leather pants and a prominent, black cape because by her own account she was “drunk when she packed her bags” hence the cape. McLeod is as youthful as she was a decade ago, and seeing her belt out opener “Shudder” makes one remember how damn good the band are.
McLeod is ever the confident front woman, but according to her she wasn’t always this comfortable on stage; “Sixteen years ago we were at the front bar, playing one of our first gigs and I remember we were all very nervous.” Soon after her admission “I’m Stained” from album Sumo tears through the speakers at full volume. It’s loud, quiet loud form, McLeod’s strong vocals, Tim Henwood’s killer guitar licks, Stuart Rudd’s resonating bass lines and Paul Berryman’s gargantuan drumming, make it one of many highlights. It brings memories flooding back of their gig at the Evelyn Hotel in the late 90’s and it’s like 1998 all over-again. Eerie yet strangely comforting. We were younger then, but we’ve grown up with the band.
Superjesus are astounding. Heavy, grinding guitars, contrasted with McLeod’s clear, unique vocals that display strength under her vulnerability punctuate many of the songs that resonate with the crowd tonight. Songs from albums Jet Age and Sumo feature heavily throughout the set; “Secret Agent Man”, “Saturation” and “Gravity” follow in quick succession, and prove popular hightlights in a hit laden set.
For the encore ballad “Second Sun” provides respite from grinding guitars and then it’s the song everyone wants to hear “Down Again” shaking the foundations of the Gershwin room that closes the show. If ever there was a second coming, Superjesus have proved the naysayers wrong.
First published in Noise 11 June 2013.