REVIEW PREFACE: For those who read my articles (thanks Mum) you’ll be aware that there are a handful of supposed ‘tools’ I avoid. The first, already broken, is writing in first person. Secondly, I am not one for live reviews but in this case, the second rule can also be broken. Following in this vein, third and finally, comparisons to other bands is a no-no, which for those outside of the journalism fraternity is a formal term for ‘don’t do it’. As a Brit, puns are my ‘Forte’ (you’re welcome). As are self-deprecation, sarcasm and dry irony. However, I have since learned that perhaps like most other journalists there may be underlying Freudian issues, I’ve mentioned my Mother already, consider yourself warned. Oh, and there’s an Usher reference coming up too, so things just got real filthy.
Ball Park Music opened their show like The Klaxons dragging you into their red room to teach you a lesson. Was it the spanking from drummer Daniel Hanson with his Taylor Hawkins-esqsue sky high stickwork or his brother and guitarist Dean’s relentless chest-pounding riffs? Every single punter loved submitting to the heavy handedness and they know it. Observing bassist Jen Boyce was a pleasure in itself, even her four string gave more than a tickle to say the least. Her encapsulating set-long smile, whether derived from absorbing the throngs of fans singing every word back at her or because of her natural luminous energy, it was an imperative part of the show and an utter joy to share.
Lead man Sam Cromack, ever the gentleman even with his penchant for utilising ‘fuck’ in all its splendid forms when talking to the crowd, apologised for a chest infection as if it were a hindrance to his performance. There was no inkling of such an issue, only showmanship and the silken tones fans have loved from day one. His voice, the soothing ointment in the whole affair, was nothing but astounding. Granted, even he handed out a dominating lashing during ‘Hands Off My Skin’, from their latest album Good Mood. Never judge a Cromack by its cover.
Christian Grey references aside, although the show, as promised by Cromack, was heavier than the recordings it felt just right. Intentional or not, there was a sense that the show had two distinct halves which mirrors the band’s approach in their album production; side A and B of a vinyl. Their theatrical finesse polished the glorious rawness of their show to a perfect level where it glistens but still stings in a good way. Coincidence or dry humour drove the choice to play the first track of their new album, The End Times, as the encore; a track about the potential end of the world. As with Ball Park Music’s releases the show had tints of searching for normalisation and unity, which they offered and found in a packed-out Forum Theatre.
“Melbourne you’re fucking amazing” Cromack announced, stopping mid-song. “I’ve sung this song thousands of times and it’s so easy to lose the meaning but you singing the chorus with me really reminds me why I wrote it. Thank you.” As if the band could be any more genuine.
Leaving the venue, spanked or not, you’re left feeling like they at least held you afterwards. Part of you wishes them stadium-sized success but the other wants to selfishly keep them as your casual lover… with a couple of thousand other howling people. Ball Park Music’s live show is the glitter you can’t get out of your hair for days after a party you probably wouldn’t tell your boss about. A band on the street but a freak on the stage.
Where: The Forum, Melbourne
When: Friday March 2 2018
Reviewed by James Mac
Photo by @kavanaghodowdphotography