THE TEA PARTY – Thebarton Theatre – Thursday 02 November 2017
Review by Geoff Jenke Photo by Tony Polese
Canadian band, The Tea Party have been coming regularly to Australia since the mid 1990’s. For a while, Australia was their biggest market outside of Canada. The band has never denied their Led Zeppelin influences and it showed on their first two magnificent albums.
For their third album, they seized these Zeppelin sounds and took them to a darker place. Jeff Martin said it would have been easy to just release another Edge of Twilight type album but it was time to move on. The third album, Transmission is probably The Tea Party’s heaviest album, certainly their darkest and maybe their best. This tour was celebrating the 20th anniversary of the 1997 release of Transmission by playing the album in full.
Now there will be people who say it’s just a money grab playing classic albums in full from “all those years ago” but this is the bands history and legacy, so why shouldn’t they celebrate and play it. It also gives fans a chance to hear songs that they have never heard being played live before.
The brutal Army Ants opened the set and right from the start it was obvious the band was passionate about playing these songs. Jeff Martin was our Dark Lord for the evening, singing with passion and playing guitar as if his life depended on it. The band didn’t play the album in order but this didn’t detract from the evening. It was also amazing how a three-piece band can get such a complex sound. Stuart Chatwood moved easily between bass and keyboards depending on the song requirement. Jeff Burrows pounded the drums so hard it reminded one of a certain John Bonham.
Psychpomp was the stand out track of the first set. It is as powerful a song as first released, maybe even more so in the live setting. Jeff Martin had the audience join in for the chorus, “One last kiss, before you fade away”. The band hold this song in such high regard they were selling a T Shirt with the lyrics on it at the merch stand.
Songs like Emerald and Alarum have not been heard live before, and the crowd lapped them up. Jeff dedicated Release to “the better half of the species” and while it is a ballad it is no less dark than other tracks from the album.
Naturally the set ended with “the big hit” Temptation with The Tea Party pulling out all stops and the audience screaming out the single word Temptation when required.
After a short break the band returned and launched into The River from their debut album. Not afraid to show their Zeppelin influences, the song melded into Dazed and Confused with Jeff Martin showing us just how good his guitar playing is. The Tea Party have always fused popular songs into their own and tonight certainly was no exception. Heaven Coming Down gave us U2’s With or Without You and the encore of Sister Awake gave us Paint It Black (as I have never heard the song before) and Bowie’s Heroes.
Once again, The Tea Party left us screaming for more. If you weren’t there you missed the Concert of the Year for 2017.