LIVE REVIEW: HOLY HOLY, Thebarton Theatre

We’ve had to wait a while to hear Holy Holy tour their 2021 album, Hello, My Beautiful World, but Thursday night at Thebby proved it was well worth the wait.

With a COVID interruption already behind them from their North Queensland leg of this tour, the Adelaide date wasn’t completely incident-free, however, with support act, Queen P, forced to cancel with illness a few hours before the show. These are not easy times to be a touring artist.

The upside, though, was the chance to hear local two-piece TOWNS – who, despite the very last-minute call-up, were in fine form, delivering an energetic, humour-filled support slot. Their on-stage chemistry and enjoyment-of-performance really shone through their set, alternating between their original music and some great covers, including ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ and a TV theme-show medley. It’s not often that a support act has the crowd on their feet and singing along!

Holy Holy delivered an excellent 90-minute set, showing why they are one of the best bands in the country, managing to craft out a genre where the music is both guitar driven and danceworthy.

The latest LP may be very much a product of the studio, but the material translated very well to the live setting, enhanced by an excellent sound mix and first-rate light and laser design.

Despite being a seated gig, the appreciative crowd was on its feet early and sang along with equal enthusiasm to the newer cuts and the more established material.

Beginning with ‘Believe Anything’, the early setlist leaned very much on Hello, My Beautiful World and its immediate predecessor, My Own Pool of Light.

A mid-set incursion into their debut record, with the beguiling ‘Sentimental and Monday’, demonstrated how the band’s sonic pallet has evolved and this served as a satisfying counter-point to the dance stylings of the later work.

Essentially a duo when recording, the live band expands to a six-piece. This includes CLEWS, the Sydney duo who collaborated on the recent Holy Holy album – the night’s secret weapon and offering much more than just backing vocals.

When it came to covering ‘Walking on a Dream’, CLEWS moved from the rear of stage to take the lead vocals – a thoroughly engaging performance. This ran neatly into their collaboration track from the album, ‘The Aftergone’. The main set then ended with a high-energy rendition of ‘Teach Me About Dying’.

The three-song encore took us back again to the debut album with ‘You Cannot Call for Love Like a Dog’, which showcased Oscar Dawson’s incredible talent on his left-handed telecaster – some thrilling solo work.

A second cover followed, with Lorde’s ‘Green Light’, again calling on the vocals of CLEWS, before ending the night with ‘True Lovers’.

A cold night in Adelaide, but Holy Holy really were on fire!

Reviewed by Matthew Trainor

Photos by Skye Sampson