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Live Review: Bonney Read, Thurs June 5 @ Brighton Up Bar

Words by Scenewave Australia - Published on June 9, 2014

By Cameron Nicholls

Crowded into the intimate Brighton Up Bar, red and blue lights skew and morph almost everything and everyone.  Sydney four-piece Bonney Read are launching their EP, Live To Tell, officially released on the same day, June 5.

With only a few people slowly trickling, the opening acts showed considerable power as they warmed up the crowd. The Stray Selection certainly had a hard job of opening, and they knew it – “I was a bit worried we were going to play to an empty house,” said singer, Kristina. But what they lacked in audience, they certainly made up for with enough raw, relentless sound to make the ice in your drink chatter. The five piece pop-rock group definitely impressed. Kristina’s voice was possibly the most powerful of the night. Pumping out their own originals and topped by a cover of Teenage Dirtbag, their final song, Hide and Seek, was easily their best.

After a minute to catch my breath, Tiger & the Rogues light up the stage with a flurry of heavy drums. Their sound has clear foundations in classic Stones-style rock, and undeniably bluesy influences add extra colour to their tracks. The red lights above them almost make them look demonic as they rip from song to song –emphasised by the strange tribal faces that adorn the walls. Equipped with a new drummer, they lace their songs with more texture than the previous band, and their melodies are more diverse. Their extended riff sections are excellent, though sometimes Lou O’Connor’s vocals were lost behind the chords.

By the time Bonney Read take the stage, what began as a the sparse crowd has expanded to an almost packed bar, filled with anticipation about the main act. Taking a swig of beer, singer Jess Cooper announces Bonney Read. If the Sydney four-piece rockers had a natural habitat, this would be it.

Looking beyond the pink hair and unshakable confidence, it surprises me just how well her voice translates from the EP.  Executed with the same precision heard on the record, their stage show is injected with added pace and energy. With the lights flashing behind them, they begin with Dear Friend, a catchy hit which shows off the talents of lead guitarist Kat. It’s clear they are enjoying themselves. With gritty smiles, they bob their heads together in the middle of the stage, sweat flying carelessly as if they’ve played these songs a thousand times. When they bring out Bullet, the volume is turned up a few more notches. The melodic guitar riffs are perfectly performed, and add to the heavy bass. Their decision to add a sprinkling of pop to the otherwise punk rock style is clever. The choruses are catchy and infectious, but retain the grit and rawness which sets them apart from so many other pop rock bands.

Bassist and sole male in the group, Jeremy, raises his axe to the air as if hoping to be stuck by lightning. The audience’s energy continued to build up into a sea of clapping hands and shouts for more. Jess tells us how grateful she is that we came out tonight, saying she’s had a “super” time; “I was going to say the thing from Mary Poppins but I can’t so I won’t”.

With Jeremy’s shirt on the floor, they smash out their final song and first single Runaway. They finish up with a word of thanks and a quick picture, leaving the sweaty shirt on Jeremy’s guitar. With pace, vigour and diversity, their EP launch packed a punch. With a brilliant EP and an even better live show, it’s hard not to see Bonney Read making big strides in the next few months and years.

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