Four Part Harmony Heaven

Taxiride.

A band that lit up the Australia charts almost 20 years go with their hit singles Get Set, Creepin’ Up Slowly and Everywhere You Go.

It’s been 14 years since the original line up released their sophomore album Garage Mahal, and it’s been 11 years since new music was released under the Taxiride name. It was a massive risk for me to go along, as I was completely unsure of just what the gig would be like. After being out of limelight for so long, would they be as cohesive and accessible as they were back in the day? Would they still have that same chemistry which saw them reach amazing heights here and overseas (Imaginate and Garage Mahal are both certified platinum)? I had a lot of questions going into the night, but one thing was always for sure – they know how to write great songs. With that in mind, I took a punt, grabbed a ticket ($31.40, bargain!) and headed down to my favourite venue to have my questions answered.

Newtown Social Club is quiet when I arrive. I know that tickets haven’t sold well, but it’s a surprise to see so few people hanging around. I am fairly early for a school night, but it shocks me nonetheless. Tonight kicks off with local boy Taylor Sheridan. I have never heard of him before, but was sure it would be a mid-20’s guy with an acoustic guitar. Sure enough, at 8.10pm, Taylor walks on stage, picks up a gorgeous Maton bluegrass acoustic, and begins finger-picking his way through the first track. The chords are familiar, but it’s not until Taylor unleashes his simply amazing vocal that it is instantly recognisable. The set starts with a fantastic over of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean, and immediately the crowd goes silent. There’s only around 30 people upstairs at this stage, but everyone is transfixed. Taylor has a vocal quality likened to that of Justin Timberlake or Usher, a buttery smooth tone which would be perfectly suited to RnB music. His falsetto is spot on and I am blown away by how well he has managed to kick start the set. Taylor follows the cover with a few originals, which are well-written and performed well. He stops between each track to introduce himself, the song and a bit of his back-story which is well received.

A few tracks in and Taylor introduces his musical accompaniment for the night – X-Factor winner and teen heart-throb Reece Mastin. At first, I admit – I laughed. Then Reece starts singing, and I am immediately silenced. I remember his name but that was about it. I couldn’t recall if I had ever heard him sing – but man, he has some serious vocal chops. He has a powerful grainy blues/soul style that was extremely impressive and worked well with Taylor’s lush tones. The boys power through a couple of tunes before bidding farewell, and I have to say I’m stunned by what I just saw. Two very talented singers and guitarists in their own right, in a tiny venue in Newtown to less than 50 people. It almost seems criminal.

The crowd has started to arrive and by the time Taxiride hit the stage, the room is somewhat full – definitely not capacity but a decent crowd for a Thursday night. For those who aren’t familiar with Taxiride, they’re a now 5-piece band from Melbourne, utilising the vocal abilities of the 4 men standing at the front who switch between acoustic guitar, electric guitar and bass guitar throughout the night. Multi-talented indeed. The set starts with the first track of their debut album in Can You Feel?, and half of my questions are answered. The cohesiveness is there, the chemistry is there, the nostalgia is definitely there but above all – the harmony is there! One of the main reasons I love this band is the use of 4-part vocal harmonies throughout their songs. The main singer is undoubtedly Tim Watson, but lead vocal duties are often taken over by Jason Singh (whom is reminded frequently throughout the night that he’s who the female portion of the crowd have come to see) and Thom Yorke –doppelganger Dan Hall.

The band power through their opening few tracks, with personal favourites Rachael and the previously mentioned Everywhere You Go (one of my favourite Australian pop songs) following the opener and the crowd are all over it. Everyone knows the lyrics, and sing along in unison with the Aussie lads. There is banter going back and forth between the band and audience (we never did get that after party in the backyard of token drunk dude’s house!), which for me is what Australian pub-rock is all about. The band are joking all night, and the punters respond. This to me is what separates mediocre local gigs to great local gigs. There has to be interaction with the audience. This is exactly what we get tonight and not only does it not seem forced, it seems completely relaxed and natural. A big win.

What was so great about the show was simply just how enjoyable it was. The only negative were the occasional flat vocals from a particular band member (who admittedly was having some serious foalback issues throughout the first quarter of the night) and the occasional show-boating by a particular band member. Small negatives, and it definitely did not deflect from the feel of the night.

Taxiride made sure to pull out all the stops tonight, ensuring their well-known hit singles were front and center, and giving each band member a chance for their vocals to shine. In particular, encore-opener Counting Down The Days, sung by Dan was a treat – a great little song that was first heard by the band when they encountered Dan busking on the streets, and he joined Taxiride soon after. The middle of the set really showcases just how great the harmonies are – with Back Again and the Crosby, Stills and Nash cover Helplessly Hoping sung with little more than a small backdrop of acoustic guitar and bass to allow the vocal harmonies to take centre stage. If a barber-shop quartet played instruments, they would call themselves Taxiride. I love vocals, and the boys performed perfectly.

I immensely enjoyed the gig tonight. It showcased a band throwing back to their heyday in style. Everyone knows the singles, but digging into their catalogue means finding some absolute gems, and I would encourage everyone to at least have a go – you might be pleasantly surprised, as I certainly was tonight.

4.1/5

Taxiride @ Newtown Social Club, Newtown. Thursday, March 2nd 2017.

  1. Can You Feel?
  2. Rachael
  3. Everywhere You Go
  4. Nothing In This World
  5. Rocketship
  6. Ice Cream
  7. Get Set
  8. Let’s Spend The Night
  9. Back Again
  10. Helplessly Hoping (Crosby, Stills and Nash cover)
  11. Afraid To Fly
  12. Forest For The Trees
  13. How I Got This Way
  14. Creepin’ Up Slowly
  15. Counting Down The Days
  16. Afterglow
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