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Live Review: Modest Mouse w/ Pearls @ Enmore Theatre


Another relatively new band has emerged from the dredges of Melbourne to add to the never-ending list of artists to perform live prematurely. Last year Pearls received mixed reviews of debut album ‘Pretend You’re Mine’, and some waxed lyrical about their semi hit Big Shot. After witnessing their supporting performance at the Enmore Theatre, it’s clear that although they have potential, the band needs to spend more time polishing their act and bolstering their lacking repertoire.


It was a short eight song set, with all but two songs being from their debut album ‘Pretend You’re Mine’. It was littered with awkward pauses and tuning, and needed more banter from frontman Ryan Caesar. Baby and Albion started a cool swaying from the small crowd, but were too mellow. Next we heard the new half-baked upbeat tune Come See Me and got a little sick of hearing the lyrics “come see me” over and over again. This could be a great hit if they fine tune it, it has a crazy catchy riff, and resonates of Blondie’s Call Me. Me & My Girl was cruisy and melancholy, and started the vibe that the audience was desperate for. Unreleased new song Crime Of The Century (final name TBA) was delivered with good timing and asked ‘does it hold you at night?’.

Closing with their two biggest songs, Pretend You’re Mine and Big Shot, Pearls made up somewhat for their previous indifference. Pretend You’re Mine was alright, but not as gold as it could’ve been. However, the enthusiasm of James (Westside Story) Payne mouthing the lyrics, was both amusing and adorable. Big Shot reminded about a quarter of the audience of who they were watching, and every song should definitely feature Ellice Blakeney’s vocals. If these two songs represent the direction they are headed to, in addition to a better version of Come See Me, I would recommend giving them another shot. Hopefully Pearls sorts out their timing, tuning, attitude, and live up to be the big shot they could be.


After a 40 minute break we began to hear a terribly abrasive noise that resembled a hungry horde of bees attacking a jacaranda tree, looped over and over again. Modest Mouse have been kicking on since the early nineties, with numerous member changes and varying alternative rock sounds. Modest Mouse never quite made it, but have slowly collected a weird cult-like fan base that almost filled the Enmore Theatre on a Monday night. Last year’s album ‘Strangers To Ourselves’ was the first since we’ve seen from the collective since 2007 and they haven’t really graced Sydney with their presence for a while.

“As security attempted to find the cheeky bastards who lit up a doobie midset Brock was still wrestling with the microphone and brazenly lit up a cigarette while waiting for the roadie to fix it.”

Strangely, the hilarious frontman Isaac Brock took to the far right of the stage and jinxed himself for numerous microphone malfunctions throughout the entire show that he impressively took in his stride (including some really sharp feedback). Brock’s witty breathy banter was a relaxed and refreshing highlight, as it was “too hard not to be a dick all the time”. He sipped from tea and retaliated perfectly to quips and yelps from the front row peanut gallery. Never Ending Math Equation had some great spoken word, definitely a banger that got the crowd going with some well-timed strobe lighting. It was very difficult to hear lyrics and at times Brock’s banter, due to microphone and sound level issues, but a fab rendition of Lampshades On Fire gave us a chance to feel included. No one could miss the quirky alternative vibe and the classic line “buh, buh, buh, buh, buh, buh, buh-duh-dah”.

As security attempted to find the cheeky bastards who lit up a doobie midset Brock was still wrestling with the microphone and brazenly lit up a cigarette while waiting for the roadie to fix it. Throwback to early album The Lonesome Crowded West, tune Doin’ The Cockroach was a great early 90s rock revival, a bit of needed thrash for the doting audience, and was well executed. Switching genres a banjo and violin surfaced for an epic Bukowski, the bizarre combination of battle-style snare drum and woodblock built us up for a heroic chorus. King Rat saw further microphone problems but had a great use of trumpets and Dashboard shifted the set again to an upbeat groovefest.


Unfortunately the grating bee-buzzing returned to signify an encore. The lighting changed to a crisp deep blue and perfectly matched Missed The Boat. The Good Times Are Killing Me played perfectly to a beautiful disco ball that scattered romantic light across the entire venue. Psychedelic guitar coupled with the echoed chanting by the crowd led into the big finish. We didn’t hear Float On but that seems to be the new hip thing, no one plays their mainstream hits anymore. It was impressively unexceptional at times yet completely engaging at others, a showcase of their different moods, instruments, and eras. Kudos for managing to make the crowd laugh without them being able to actually hear what they were laughing at – now that’s loyalty…

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