Gig Review: Cloves | Northcote Social Club | 13.6.18

Monday, June 18, 2018

If you haven't heard of Cloves, you would be most likely be forgiven. Since leaving Melbourne to pursue music internationally, the now London-based musician has rarely appeared on Australian stages until a recent string of opening spots aside New South rock band, The Rubens and a small run of shows across Melbourne and Sydney. 

Wednesday night marked the close of these shows and the return of Cloves’ to her hometown Melbourne. Joined on the road by Adelaide’s Mane, the social club was filled to the brim by lively new music for the crowd to absorb.

Mane’s opening set had power behind it — the Adelaide artist brought the Social Club to life. Showing brief shades of New South Wales’ artist Gordi, another artist who shares a love of vocal engineering, Mane used her effect board to great purpose, creating a vibrant sound profile through each song. 

Rolling with a somewhat modern grunge sound, the band accentuated Mane’s vocal effects, creating an eclectic mix of heavier instrumentals mixed around airy, passionate vocals. 

Mane’s set was highlighted by a raw solo song that she dubbed “her angry song”. Using shifting vocal tones between innocent and withdrawn to in-the-moment, emotionally sung outbursts, Mane’s song caused the developing crowd to drop away to silence — the crowd in awe of her vocal ability coupled with her resonating stage presence. 

Closing with her recent single, 'Chasing Butterflies', Mane projected the air of an artist who loved being up on the stage. Jumping about through her guitarist's solo, smiling and thanking the crowd through the bridge. The song was a fulfilling end to a set connected by emotion and heart. 

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Performing with natural flair and grace, the London-based artist had it all working for her up on the Northcote Social Club stage. Cloves, complemented on stage by her accompanying band had a set that was full of moving parts. Flowing guitar riffs, pop-led hooks and subtle vocal work highlighted a exciting set, creating a fun and excitable atmosphere through Northcote’s famous bandroom.

Cloves opened her set with her recent 2018 single, 'Wasted Time' after an exciting, guitar-driven intro to the stage from her backing band. 'Wasted Time' quickly built the energy in the room and sent an intoxicating atmosphere flowing through the room quickly, from the beginning of Cloves’ set. The song was a memorable one built on the backbone of whimsical guitar work and Cloves’ high, airy tones spreading through the room. 

Cloves has a natural talent for subtlety in her music, often using genres to quietly emphasise or paint a picture throughout her tracks. Her third song 'Bringing The House Down', displayed this trait with chord work driven by a blues soul, thick thumping bass, and vocals reminiscent of Alex Turner’s floaty, expansive voice. 

Yet, each of these changing sound profiles kept Cloves’ songs fresh, each rendition bringing the possibility of a different sound, yet still working equally as well with her sound. 

Moving through 'Better Now', 'Hit Me Hard', 'Everybody’s Son' and 'California Numb', the set was full of new works and upcoming songs, but these fit nicely amongst her older recordings. The set flowed well, with the cultivated list presenting both exciting energy packed numbers alongside Cloves’ heavier hitting songs. 

The fifth song of Cloves’ set 'Hit Me Hard' was dedicated to her Nana, who was also present, able to see how far Cloves has come in her years away. The track, an unreleased number, was a beautiful rendition filled with love and compassion. Partnered only with her guitarist and using her calm, smokey vocals to great effect the sound carefully resonated through the bandroom. Cloves built a warm atmosphere around the song epitomising the affectivity of her growing music collection.

'Up & Down' held a somewhat sadder tone, the building track being played towards the end of the set. This, however, worked well in the set layout; the building nature of the song raising the energy levels again before a bit finish through 'Frail Love' a recording off of Cloves’ EP XIII and a pumping yet stirring number of 'One Big Nothing'. 

Cloves’ yet to be released 'One Big Nothing' closed her set, the final track had Cloves showcasing her vocal ability through tender vocal sustains and thrilling pop-indie energy. With this tour leading up to Cloves’ soon to be released debut album, there was an air of confidence in the room for a successful release later this year.

Written by Daniel Hanssen (@dangigman)

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