Review: His Merry Men with The Bon Scotts, The Empress Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Photo courtesy of His Merry Men

His Merry Men with The Bon Scotts
The Empress Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 23rd March, 2013

Last Saturday night everyone was having a house party. There were backyard bonfires, beers and friendly encounters to be made. But in the midst all of this merriment, I headed over to The Empress Hotel for some late night tunes. Entertaining the patrons of the dark, pub-like venue were two headliners with, in totality, more instruments than band members.

This wasn’t just the final show of the tour. Local folk band, The Bon Scotts, were also farewelling their drummer, Jono. Their heart-felt goodbye featured everything from mandolin and banjo to hand-held harp – and that was just from one band member. Opening with “Lovesong for a Riot,” the band immediately caught my attention, showcasing their creative fusion of traditional folk, unique percussive elements and raspy, Scotland-inspired rock. An accordion and xylophone provided an eclectic music experience for the listener.

As the set continued, their compositions offered variety and energy. The bassist in particular had boundless kilojoules at his disposal, rocking out at the back like he’d just won the lottery. Three songs stood out for me: “The Way Home,” “Polluted Sea,” mainly for the lyric, “throw ourselves unconditionally into love,” and a hilarious but memorable song about dying at the hands of C.G.I. These dudes were sweaty and screaming, which combined with elegantly written lyrics is all I can ask for in a live show. They finished off with a glorious performance of “The Kids are Coming” and I was already liking their Facebook page.

It was almost a logistical nightmare as the 7-piece packed up their gear while a 9-piece simultaneously unpacked theirs. With heads held high, His Merry Men piled on to the stage, decked out in their finest pajamas for the last show of the Pillow Tour. There was a range of sleepwear on show, including everything from boxers and striped leggings to Mr. Men print flannels. Andy introduced the horn section on tenor saxophone before the electric guitar joined in with an explosive riff. The band confronts their audience with a confident blend of musical styles.

The ‘Robin Hood’ of this tale is Megan Crocombe, a force to be reckoned with in her tenacity and robust vocal acrobatics. She’s cheeky, uninhibited and wildly contagious as the male members joined her in “Summer Song,” chanting, “Got no job, got no future, but that’s okay cause we got the summer time.” My personal favourite, “Super Secret Spies,” is almost a tribute to James Bond but added an element of comedy to the show as the horn section struck various secret agent poses. A man sporting a polka dot onesie made eerie theremin-like noises on a launchpad while the singer yelped and howled like a lonely dog.

You can tell just by watching them interact that the members are good friends. They are completely comfortable on the stage and not just because they’re wearing pajamas. Moreover, each individual ‘merry man’ displays exceptional skill on his or her chosen instrument. Kudos goes to the guitarist in particular, who unleashed a tirade of fat and funky guitar riffs, which at different moments throughout the set borrowed from the styles of Jimi Hendrix, Tom Morello and John Mayer. This demonstrated not only his versatility as a musician but also his child-like passion for music that was palpable as he rocked out in socks and crab-print shorts like he was just practicing in his bedroom at three in the morning.

The band also performed “OP,” a sexy downtempo number with a drumbeat that reminded me of Cake’s “Shut the Fuck Up.” The Brisbane cohort also paid tribute to the resignation of Jono the drummer by inviting him on stage for a mellow tune and a bit of a cuddle. After a song involving some Spanish bull-fighting music and a barefoot trumpet solo, Megan thanked the crowd and the ceiling fan, ditching the mic stand for the final song.

There was so much happening on stage that I struggled to write it all down. One minute the horn section were dancing; then they were jumping; then they abandoned their instruments altogether as the piano had a jazz aneurysm. A few false endings and they finished with flashing lights and wailing. His Merry Men are such a visually engaging band and definitely brought their own house party tonight. I would love to catch these guys again on a bigger stage, with or without the pajamas.

1 Comment

  1. March 29, 2013 at 12:55

    […] “There was so much happening on stage that I struggled to write it all down. One minute the horn section were dancing; then they were jumping; then they abandoned their instruments altogether as the piano had a jazz aneurysm. A few false endings and they finished with flashing lights and wailing. His Merry Men are such a visually engaging band and definitely brought their own house party tonight. I would love to catch these guys again on a bigger stage, with or without the pajamas” – Laurenandmoore reviews His Merry Men at The Empress Hotel in Melbourne. Review here […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: