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Gig Review: Cloud Control @ The East Brunswick Club, 22nd May

This was either my fifth or sixth time seeing Cloud Control live, I’m starting to lose track. However it was the first following the release of their debut album ‘Bliss Release’, and it seems to me like the band develop a more and more professional live show each time I see them.

Sure enough, this was easily the best set I’ve seen from Cloud Control.

The East Brusnwick Club was sold out, which must always be a nice feeling for an artist, and shows that on the back of their excellent debut album, Cloud Control are finally getting the recognition they deserve.

I missed the first openers, Love Connection, unfortunately, but arrived in time to see the entire set from the second openers, Richard In Your Mind. This was a very unique set- frontman Richard Cartwright both charmed and seriously confused the audience with quirky banter that included an echo session where other band members repeated what he was saying a few seconds after him.

As for their music, it’s difficult to classify or describe. At times it seemed like fairly generic straight-up folk/rock built around an acoustic guitar, but then there was always the constant interludes of bizarre sound effects and feedback in an almost- dare I say it- Animal Collective style. Listening to this set was a strange experience, and I still can’t decide whether I actually like their music or not. But it definitely grabbed your attention, and that in itself is an achievement for a support act.

After the openers departed the atmosphere in the packed venue ramped up slightly, and everyone immediately gathered around the stage. Oddly the venue did not make use of the curtain to cover the stage while the band sound-checked, and seeing everything happen certainly took some of the mystery away. However soon enough it didn’t matter, because Cloud Control took to the stage.

For me they struck a familiar image on stage, and likewise they seemed very comfortable in dealing with a sold out crowd, which probably has come with their experience and the fact they took their time releasing their debut album.

Wasting no time whatsoever, the band broke into a standout track from ‘Bliss Release’, There’s Nothing In The Water We Can’t Fight. It is just such an amazing track, and live it really shines. Al’s vocals are simply stunning, and Heidi’s backing vocals are more clear when heard live, and really add to the song. It immediately got the entire crowd singing and dancing along, as we all tried our best falsetto for the chant of “We can’t fight”. It was a truly great opener. If it was another band you’d be afraid they were peaking too early with this massive track, but not Cloud Control.

They proceeded to masterfully reel off a set full of hits from ‘Bliss Release’. Meditation Song #2 (Why, Oh Why) was sped up significantly live, but this worked fine, as did single This Is What I Said, which got the whole venue moving again with that trademark jangly guitar riff.

Beast Of Love saw Heidi take over lead vocals and perform a haunting rendition of the song, and The Rolling Stone was received very warmly by the crowd. All of Cloud Control’s songs just seemed to be bigger live. They had more depth, more passion, and more sound, which is saying something, because I really love their studio stuff.

Old favourites that were left off ‘Bliss Release’ of course made an appearance. Vintage Books was definitely a highlight as Al asked “Will you wait like I wait for you? Will you jump if I ask you to?”. And by this point, the whole crowd was pretty much eating out of the hands of Cloud Control, so I have little doubt that we would have. Death Cloud was introduced as an “older song that goes alright”, which was definitely an apt description.

Triple J hit Gold Canary of course made an appearance, and got the whole crowd moving and singing to a whole new level. At one point it almost became redundant for Al to be singing at all, and a genuine smile crossed his face at this time. As the whole crowd clapped in time, waved our arms in the air when asked, and sung lead vocals, it was wonderful to see a band basking in their deserved success.

The band were very grateful of the reception they received, especially when it came to Gold Canary, which saw Al mutter “Wow, thank you” into the mic afterwards. Ghost Story was of course great, and saw Jeremy join Ulrich in providing drums and once again rapidly disintegrate his drumsticks with enthusiastic bashing of an equipment case.

By this point it was becoming fairly clear that there would be no encore, which I’m absolutely fine with. Stupid things. But that meant we all knew what was coming: the band thanked the crowd, and then broke into that timeless opening riff of the one and only Buffalo Country. This song really is in a league of it’s own when played live- it saw the night end with a real party, as the crowd sung every word along with Al and let loose to that infectious guitar riff.

Way too soon, the set was over. Just like Cloud Control’s debut album, it had remarkably little filler material. It was an extremely tight and professional set that conveyed Cloud Control’s experience, but at the same time it was all kinds of fun which was reflective of the fact they have only released one full-length album and are still simply enjoying the ride.

It was easily the most enjoyable Cloud Control set I have seen, which is saying something, and if this night was anything to go by, the days of being able to see them as a support act are well and truly over. This is a band that belongs on their own stage, and belongs in front of sold out venues.

And all I can say is bring on the next one, preferably as soon as possible.

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