[Live Review] THE BLACKWATER FEVER

Blackwater Fever - Ashlee Kellehear 09

Lass O’Gowrie Hotel, Newcastle
Saturday August 24, 2013 :

Brisbane’s The Blackwater Fever released their third album, The Depths, earlier this year, thus confirming their status as one of the country’s most underrated yet finest purveyors of blues-rock. Tonight The Blackwater Fever descended on the Lass for a rather low-key gig, bringing their gritty blues-rock sound to a small but enthusiastic crowd. The band’s overlooked profile is all the more perplexing considering their talent as musicians and song-writers, coupled with an accessible streak that should elevate them beyond such small venues with little to no promotion. No disrespect to the Lass, but from the quality and professionalism of their studio efforts and tight live performances, The Blackwater Fever should be generating more interest. Regardless, the band doesn’t seem to care a great deal, and their seemingly down-to-earth and hardworking nature holds plenty of appeal.

Earlier tonight we were treated to two warm-up acts, the first a late fill-in on acoustic guitar, before local band Bigger Cages hit the stage. These dudes really lifted the tempo and played a short, tight set front-loaded with restless energy and snappy hooks. Their poppy angle is offset by sharper alt-rock edges and a particularly appealing use of off-kilter rhythms, lending their music a unique and unpredictable feel. It definitely seemed to lift the energy levels in preparation for the main act.

The Blackwater Fever came to the small stage at the late starting time of 11.00 pm and immediately kicked into gear with a far too short set featuring songs from their three albums, with a particular emphasis on material from The Depths. Fleshed out from their original two-piece configuration, the addition of Jed Walters (bass/keyboards) has beefed up their sound, adding a strong new dimension. The sound was decidedly robust, and despite the small crowd, The Blackwater Fever played with lots of energy, clearly enjoying their work as they punched through a handful of tunes inside 40 minutes. Shane Hicks has a strong voice which sounds all the more effective when he takes on a rougher tone. ‘Now She’s Gone’, ‘Won’t Cry Over You’, the killer bootlegging tale ‘Don’t Fuck with Joe’, and ‘Lovesick’ featured during the short set. The crowd was enthusiastic and appreciative, with it all coming to an end a little too quickly. Nevertheless it was a solid and enjoyable night of live entertainment.

Unpretentious, soulful and full of grit, The Blackwater Fever are an admirable Aussie band that appear more than willing to plug away in the background and pay their dues with good old fashioned hard work. Let’s hope they one day get the attention their quality music warrants.

Reviewer: Luke Saunders
Photographer: Ashlee Kellehear

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