The Jezabels are a long way from home. The Sydney four-piece played the Ruby Lounge in Manchester last night and for a band still trying to cultivate a UK following, they blew the place away.
An independent band, The Jezabels have enjoyed great success in their homeland, hitting the number two spot in the charts with their debut album last year and selling out venues in Sydney, and they have now embarked on their much-anticipated European tour.
Initially, it seemed as though it might not be such a lively night, as the audience for the two local support acts The Level Vessels and The Shinies was somewhat thin with both bands receiving a lukewarm reception. However as soon as the latter had left the stage, a sense of urgency seemed to push the crowd forward. Suddenly, the Lounge seemed crammed full of fans, anxious to catch a glimpse of the The Jezabels.
The sense of anticipation grew as the band spent 20 minutes sound-checking, before disappearing for a further half an hour. By 10:15pm, the crowd was obviously restless and bordering on annoyed, but all was forgiven as soon as The Jezabels arrived on stage.
Lead singer Hayley Mary has often been compared to indie favourite Florence Welch, and indeed it is easy to draw parallels between the two artists’ vocal styles. However her appearance seemed to send a deliberate message; Hayley Mary is a rock star.
Dressed entirely in black, from her leather jacket to her chunky Dr. Martins, she has a commanding presence that combined with her solemn expression and severe pixie haircut make it hard to take your eyes off her.
Once on stage the band got straight down to business, beginning on new single Endless Summer and moving seamlessly on to the 2010 hit A Little Piece- to much whooping from the crowd.
Live, the heavy guitar riffs, groovy keyboard melody and tight drumbeats from punk-influenced Nik Kaloper, made such an impact that you might not have noticed the lack of a bassist. Mary’s ethereal and on occasion, Kate Bush-esque vocal melodies topped the four-piece off perfectly, creating a hypnotic and absorbing grunge/indie sound.
It is Mary herself that injected the intense energy into the performance. She was so obviously absorbed in the music she seemed barely to notice the audience, so much so that she didn’t speak until after the sixth song when she explained, “We don’t talk much, we sound too Australian.”
This band fit perfectly into the Manchester music scene. They know how to build intensity throughout a song and although their set slowed down slightly in the middle, their encore performance of Hurt Me felt like a mini-symphony and was undoubtedly the highlight of the night.
The Jezabels have the potential to inject a much-needed dose of grunge into the current UK indie scene and with Hayley Mary as their frontwoman, their rise to fame in the UK seems nothing less than inevitable.