As the sun set on 2020, 10 High Fly had one more treat in store.
10 High Fly capped off a tumultuous 2020 with a stellar gig at the Ocean Grove Hotel last week, on the 30th. Following the release of their first album, 10 High Fly were eager to test out what they had been working on a live crowd, and I am happy to report that the songs do in fact sound better live.
With a backdrop of rolling clouds, the sound of rolling waves, and a chill in the air that almost disappeared when they stood on stage, this show was more of a homecoming than anything for the band, who had played their previous gig here too, over 11 months ago albeit.
If you’ve never been down to the Ocean Grove Hotel, I highly recommend giving them a visit. Before the show, I was treated to a delicious Parmi, and an incredibly quick one that at. The Ocean Grove Hotel very much has a ‘community hub’ type vibe to it, with everyone seemingly knowing each other, so despite not knowing a soul in the venue I was made to feel at home, like returning to an old group of friends.
Being staged in the establishment’s outdoor beer garden, it was a little cold, not helped by the swell of the sea, less than a kilometer away, but gas heaters and good company made that a non-issue.
10 High Fly was opened by Cory Hargreaves, a country singer-songwriter from Queensland. He played a non-offensive set, with a few originals and covers of Flame Trees, Tennessee Whiskey, and Wagon Wheel setting the mood appropriately. In fact, having a bona fide country artist play before the main attraction really helps cement 10 High Fly’s country origins, which personally I didn’t quite hear in ‘Roller Coaster’, even after lead singer Sam Hanson told me what the album was inspired by.
Regardless, the time had come, and 10 High Fly finally returned to the stage, having played their last gig on January 21st, the band was nervous, and Hanson wasn’t afraid to tell us about it either. The gig offered a sense of vulnerability that you don’t really get with bigger artists. With both band and audience just happy to have live music back, any mishaps can also be over-looked (a disappearing bass guitar during one song, and a few missed clicks of an echo pedal for the vocals on a few others).
Whilst this album launch gig jumbled up the order of the tracks – and spliced them with songs from Hanson’s back-catalog – losing much of the ebb and flow that made the record a surprise hit for me, it was replaced by genuine showmanship. Bandmate banter, including a wave of groans as Hanson jokingly played the opening to Wonderwall in between songs, and very distinct sections of the gig that built towards a stunning rendition of ‘So Much Time’, a highlight of the album.
Following this was a series of quieter, acoustic moments, with just Hanson and Paul O’Reilly, the band’s lead guitarist. Among these tracks was a song named ‘Slip Away’, which Hanson said was a new song, written after the album, and I sure hope this gets a proper release because it was a very very good song indeed.
The band rejoined Hanson and O’Reilly for the final three tracks, ‘Cut Me Down’, ‘Won’t Let You Down’ and ‘Typical’, the latter rounding out the night. The night ended with a heartwarming arrangement showcasing each band member’s raw skill, with stunning guitar, piano, and drum solos, and a frankly hilarious attempted bass solo in which a man whom I only remember as ‘Michael’ rubbed a glass bottle across his fretboard.
I am happy to say the theory from the review of ‘Roller Coaster’ is more of a self-fulfilling prophecy than anything. These songs sound great live, and honestly, better than they do on the record, as live they were played with keys and were accompanied by the musings of a group of mates, joking in between tracks, joking with the audience, and most importantly, having a damn good time whilst they are at it. Plus I got a free CD for coming along, now to find a CD player!
10 High Fly return to the stage on the 30th of January at The Door Gallery Cafe for an unplugged gig, grab tickets here.