Gold Class at NGV’s Friday Nights

As I navigate the heat on the way in to St Kilda Rd, I ask myself: “Why do I keep coming to these shows?” The answer is that I’m getting to see a wide range of acts, some I know well, and others I’ve not yet seen, nor heard of. Gold Class sit somewhere in the middle. I’ve heard a track or two on the radio, but knew nothing substantial about this Melbourne act, other than that I “should see” them.

Another part to the return is that it’s a very nice way to spend an evening, if you’re not up for a long night, or as a prelude to one. A chance to see some art, wander in the garden, grab a bite and a beer and relax in a busy but not overfilled, bright, welcoming space. It serves to bring the sometimes overwhelmingly formal nature of the gallery down into human scale, to make it feel friendlier than it may sometimes seem in the important business of experiencing capital A art.

Tonight I wandered through the Viktor and Rolf display. While not my thing, it was certainly fascinating. One of the most fun aspects was in the children’s play area, where just about every adult was kidding it up and creating white crepe and cardboard hats, cuffs and collars. With no children about this evening we had licence to let our inner kids play. Highly recommended for letting go of one’s inhibitions.

It made us a little late for Gold Class, coming in after a song or two. Surprisingly the boom from the band didn’t penetrate the gallery area as much as you might fear.

When I got into hearing distance my first thought was: “finally an all-out rocking band”. Previous acts had talked about a need to respect the space or keep the sound down and balanced. These guys just turned it up, and yet strangely did not feel too loud, nor create great walls of bouncing echo.

My second thought was: “sheesh that drummer is going hell for leather”. In nearly every song he was beating away as if possessed, his right leg bouncing up and down whilst pounding away at the kick drum, arms tapping at hi-hats, snare and toms. It’s not that Mark Hewitt was over-drumming like some metal wannabe, these are simply fast rock songs, and his drumming builds a platform over which the others place their sound. I kept an eye on him all performance and can imagine that he comes off after a show totally spent; you can see the tension in his body as he keeps right on beat for song after song.

Bassist Jon Shub alternates between playing throbbing meaty 8 beats to the very fast bar, and more measured waves of sounds. Gold Class, instrumentally, are a three piece, so every element has to be spot on to remain convincing over an hour long set.

Over this very solid, booming express freight train comes the guitar of Evan James Purdey, riffing, making screeching noise, sitting quietly for a time then wailing, and mostly offering a bed for Adam Curley’s vocals to sit, or a response to these.

The band is slick and Adam’s singing is solid, sounding a little like a 1980s UK post-punker. There’s a distinct tone and sound to his voice that transcends the purely local.

They keep up a forceful pace, never really letting it slide back, even some of the songs with less happening still careen along from a drumming viewpoint. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with something less frenetic as no doubt will occur over time.

Highlights were Kids on Fire and My Life as a Gun, mostly because I and the audience knew them. There was a good crowd here tonight too, and one that was different to the previous show, a lot of younger faces, really focused on the band. This was Gold Class’s last Melbourne show until they finish an album, their next gigs look like being in late autumn, or Perth in late February.

Gold Class played the NGV on Friday, January 6

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