Australian 70’s-arena-rock-inspired Wolfmother created some buzz last week when they were in town for a soldout show at the Kool Haus, as well as a brief performance at the Indie Awards. We’re a little late reporting on it (blame CMW), but last Tuesday’s show was nothing short of a marathon set, if we’ve ever seen one.
Frontman Andrew Stockdale took to the stage sporting full facial hair and his trademark giant afro, and along with bassist Chris Ross and drummer Myles Heskett, the band launched right into ‘Dimension’ off their self-titled debut album. It was hard to take your eyes off the charismatic Stockdale, whose ‘fro looked as though it was on fire due to the backlighting and the way he strutted around the stage wielding his guitar, doing the requisite rockstar kicks in the air.
The band moved through their set list at a lingering pace, jamming it out at the end of each song as though they were in no hurry to go anywhere. As the last stop on Wolfmother’s North American tour, it seems Toronto got way more bang for it’s buck than most cities who only saw an hour-long set. Considering their album comes in at 54 minutes long, the two and a half hour (!), 15 song set that we saw averaged out to about 10 minutes per song. At one point, Stockdale commented about critics claiming that jam’s are self-indulgent, of which he disagreed, however, that may have been foreshadowing what was to come.
The energy in the room was quite high right from the start, but it wasn’t until the band played their hit ‘Woman’ that the crowd went nuts, singing every word along with Stockdale’s distinctively high voice. Near the end of the song they began experiencing technical difficulty of some sort, which wasn’t very apparent at first. Instead of stopping to fix it, the band decided to work it out by performing a Pink Floyd-like jam session that seemed to last about 20 minutes. At this point there was a noticeable shift in the energy of the audience, who were undoubtedly starting to think that things were indeed feeling a little self-indulgent, until the band finally fixed whatever was wrong and broke into ‘Mind’s Eye’.
One new song made it into the set, called ‘Love Attacker’, which wasn’t much of a departure from their current roster of songs…if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? And to top off the evening, although members of the crowd facetiously asked for some Bon Jovi when Stockdale was taking requests, it’s no surprise that they planned to cover a little band called Led Zeppelin. Needless to say, when they busted into ‘Communication Breakdown’ the crowd went ballistic, particularly the older guys standing along the back bar.
Although Wolfmother have been accused of being a derivative band, what goes around comes around (80’s fashion, anybody?) and in this day and age, who can’t use a little updated classic rock? The band are a treat to see live and even though the stage is barebones, the energy and charisma they emit is more than enough to keep your attention until the end. It was refreshing to see a band not rush through the set list for once and just kick back and have a good time with their audience. Some fans were even rewarded with a guitar pedal or two, when Stockdale ran around the stage at the end throwing stuff around, and randomly handed out various pieces of equipment. Makes us wonder how many people ran out to buy a guitar to match their newly acquired pedals.
Photo: Carrie Musgrave.