Live Review: Cold War Kids – 170 Russell, Melbourne (25.03.16)

Easter weekend in Australia means Bluesfest, and for those of us down in Melbourne it means sideshows. So many sideshows. Personally, I was most keen for Cold War Kids‘ sold out 170 Russell venture off the back of their fifth LP Hold My Home and first ever chart topping single in “First”.

Quite often I’m fascinated by how unusual the crowds are at Cold War Kids live shows, with Friday night no exception. There’s always such a wide array of personalities and ages which creates and interesting evening of people watching, a good time killer while the stage is unoccupied. Their fans tend to be less inhibited, not trying to be ‘cool’ (as uptight Melbourne crowds so often are), and as a result are visibly ecstatic at the opening chords of each song.

Throwing “All This Could Be Yours” out there second meant the five-piece had complete ownership of the packed room from very early on, and kept a hold of it until the very end. Letting them down, however, were the sound levels. While adjustments did improve the sound as the set progressed, it definitely detracted from how explosive the quintet so often is on stage.

Another beguiling thing about Cold War Kids’ live show is how they are able to create a complete set of crowd favourites – and by crowd favourites, I mean hundreds of people singing every single word. From early tracks like “Hang Me Up To Dry” and “We Used To Vacation” right through to “Miracle Mile” and “First”, each song had a choral singalong almost drowning out lead man Nathan Willett.

The set was largely backlit, creating five bussing silhouettes on stage, and it was totally captivating. Their delivery is second-to-none and their cohesion as a band is something that comes from years and years of hard work and touring. Throughout the night, Willett jumped between guitar, piano and even tambourine, all the while remaining the consummate front man, and bassist Matt Maust – the only other member remaining from the original CWK lineup – was clearly totally immersed in the performance and vibe of the room.

No doubt Cold War Kids’ throng of Australian fans will continue to grow, especially with a sixth album on the horizon, but their live show leaves no prisoners. Bursting from the stage and doing all of their recordings justice, there’s a clear reason why people keep coming back- and why Australia has such a demand for their regular return.