Sydney duo Polish Club made their return to the stage, bringing along Johnny Hunter for the ride!
Image: Vasili Papathanasopoulos.
Hot off the release of their breezy new single, Just Talking, Polish Club have made their grand return to the stage! Playing four intimate shows at Sydney’s Factory Theatre, the duo brought their certain brand of rock, infused with threads of soul and jazz to the performance. Bringing along one of Australia’s most exciting new bands, Johnny Hunter.
Capturing the audience with their storytelling lyricism and layered rich tones, Johnny Hunter burst on to the stage to play through tracks off their debut EP, Early Trauma. Diving deep into emotive territory, their set flirts with darker sonic tones, with frontman Nick Hutt's hypnotic vocals taking centre stage above post-punk production. Their effortless performance is a revitalised take on the glamour of 70’s and 80’s punk rock, with a darker performative twist. Comparable to David Bowie and even moments from Rocky Horror, their dramatic take on avant grade rock was enjoyable and refreshing. There is a wholeness to Hutt’s vocals, commanding the audiences attention from his first note to his last, with his stage presence reminiscent of Freddie Mercury at times. Guitarist Xander Burgess gave a riotous performance, with each band member having their moment to shine throughout the set.
Entering the stage to the Frasier theme song, Polish Club drummer John-Henry Pajak shouted to fans “go the blues!” in preparation for last nights Sate of Origin game. The American theme followed throughout the night with the band launching into Star Mangled Banner, a track full of American influences. Playing on the term, Star Spangled Banner, the song draws comparisons with the national anthem. Although throughout the night we had many a moment where Pajak would shout go the blues. Again, the American influences were felt heavily throughout the songs. The band were setting the scene for the high energy night that was to follow, playing through fan favourites Apocalypse Twist and We Don’t Care. The latter saw audience members dancing in their seats, grooving along to that epic bass line, making the most of the socially distanced experience. Straight onto Just Talking, the guitar-led track brought the carefree summer vibes to The Factory Theatre.
Upon the mention of how “fucking hot is it” from frontman David Novak, one fan from the audience yelled “take off your shirt”, and that he did. Revealing a white singlet, Novak looked a tad like Freddie Mercury which prompted Pajak to ask him to “do the Freddie Mercury thing”. Next thing we heard, ‘DAO!’ before launching into Don’t Fuck Me Over, which started with a dedication to QLD premier Anastasia Pałaszczuk. The performance provided one of the standout moments of the night, with frontman David Novaks silky vocal performance throughout the songs versus the juxtaposed the raw quality of the chorus in a harmonious way. The track has reminiscent qualities of the song Blue Moon in the style of how it was featured on hit movie Grease. Throughout the night we had heavy elements of jazz influences infused within a rock soundscape.
Teasing a new song, Pajak told fans to check under their seats for a special treat, tricking fans into thinking they were about to have an Oprah moment. The band had a great rapport with the audience, creating conversation between tracks. At one point, Novak called out for bass player Dan Cunningham’s girlfriend, with Cunningham saying he was planning to propose to her if she had shown up. Alas, she didn’t, so a video was sent to her. Later in the set he informed the audience he got a “yes.” (True or not, congratulations!)
One of the nights surprising moments was the bands take of Doja Cat’s hit song, Say So. Their rendition could definitely rival the original, paring the song back giving it a soulful rock element and switching up the tempo to draw the track out. Their take on the song felt like the soundtrack to a prom, something that would feature in a teen cult film such as 10 Things I Hate About You. At this point, Novak’s vocals are on full display, shining and having reminiscent qualities of Australian musician Michael Paynter and also Ray LaMontagne. Let’s not forget those incredible guitar and bass solos thrown in, elevating the song to a whole other level. Touring member Kirsty Tickle blew audience members away with an epic saxophone solo during Come Party. Clarity offered a familiar sound reminiscent of Tragedy by British-Australian band the Bee Gees and again had people dancing in their seats. Novak went solo to close the bands set with a new track due to appear on their upcoming record.
The pared back nature of the show created an intimate space where each musician was able to showcase their skills, whilst working in unison to create an engaging live show. Pajak and Novak’s rapport with the crowd cracking jokes and taking playful jabs at each other created an inviting space. Novak gave an unparalleled vocal performance, showing the varying tones and textures of his voice, with Pajak shining on the drums. The night from start to finish was a change of pace for many who have been primarily indoors this year. Or keeping to a routine where you travel from home to work, to home and back to work the following day. It was great to see people responding to live performances, dancing in their seats, singing along, taking videos of their favourite songs.