It was the first headline show on their Hug Me tour, and on a joyous Saturday night Heaps Good Friends sold out the Workers Club. It was a performance that not only showed off their talent, but displayed how dance can meet guitar music on a live stage.
The night opened on a sombre note with Hannah Blackburn taking to the stage guitar in hand. While far mellower than the headline act, there was no questioning her talent. Her beautiful voice and charming lyrics ensured that all those in the room were left dreaming of one day being as effortlessly delightful as Blackburn.
Packing the stage with members, Slowcoaching added an extra ounce of energy to the night. His folk-ish rock picking up newfound energy live on stage. Taking cuts from his 2017 EP All the Same there were more than a few voices singing along from the floor. It was an outstanding performance that showcased Dean Valentino’s capacity to wrangle a room and hold their attention on him. The band members all performed with a commitment that was engaging to witness, whilst still ensuring that it was Valentino who remained centre of attention. ‘Pillars of Salt’ proved to be a highlight of the performance, although it was also great to see the addition of one new track to his set.
Bands that work with eclectic production are often stifled by their live set up – it’s a challenge to replicate recorded work on the live stage. Because of this, there is a place for backing track in live shows. However, if two things had to be said about Heaps Good Friends show at the Workers Club, the first would be that it was an absolute boatload of fun, and the second was that the excessive use of autotuned pulled it down.
It can’t be said that the show wasn’t enjoyable. For the audience danced along to near every track, and the bigger hits – ‘Let’s Hug Longer’ and ‘I Could Eat a Full Packet of Yo Yo’s’ had a larger than life response. Each member of the South Australian trio played their instruments well, dropped entertaining slices of banter, and worked hard to captivate those present. And the issues of backing track aren’t to dismiss the work that they have done in either producing, or preparing these tracks. It does however raise the question of, do they need a larger touring band, and is this realistic for a band in their position?
Heaps Good Friends have, without a doubt, a strong future ahead of them. They can write, and they can perform. It will be interesting to see how they manage their live show in the future as the band continues to grow and develop their sound.