What is seemingly an unexpected pair, Toronto native singer-songwriter Tess Parks and Anton Newcombe, frontman of the infamously messed up cult psych-rock band, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, have managed to create a record that is, undeniably, nothing short of beautiful. Think three cord drones, drawling dream like vocals and more reverbing psychedelic waves than you can sway your hips too. Playing tracks from the pairs aforementioned record, I Declare Nothing, at Oslo’s Hackney on Saturday night, the pair showed exactly why two wrongs most definitely make a right…
Backed by four fellow musicians, the pair started off their thirteen track set with ‘Wehmut’, all fuzzy guitars and whispered interludes, creating the right atmosphere for what was to come. Closely followed was ‘Cocaine Cat’, the bubbling dream worthy stand out on the album, with Anton’s mesmerising guitar playing and Tess’s husky vocals. Parks herself is nothing short of captivating. Staring wistfully over the heads of the crowd, blowing kisses at shameless wolf whistles and speaking in minimal whispered tones, it’s hard not to feel completely immersed in the singer’s performance.
Stage presence aside, it is clear to see that although the supporting band could have been a little tighter, the quality of Anton’s musicality shone through, playing striking single notes, or those wistful feed backs he has seemingly perfected. Every part the rock and roll star on stage, swaying to the music with his eyes shut and rare backing vocals on tracks such as ‘Gone’ and ‘October 2nd’, it was wondrous to witness Anton so comfortably enjoying the new partnership.
Playing I Declare Nothing in full, the record shone even further when played live. Lyrically, when audible through the fuzz, Parks and Newcombe took the crowd through a darkly lit psychedelic journey, only pausing for disconnected glazes. Taking on a more raw edge in a live setting, the production was the perfect marriage of softened hits and elongated notes. ‘Mama’ got an extended make-over with Tess accompanied by an oversized tambourine as she swayed to the music in, what’s fast becoming, trademark dulcet tones. Building up to a tidal wave of psychedelic chords, it was a perfect highlight of the evening.
Finishing off the set with an incredible concluding cover of The Door’s ‘Five To One’, inevitably putting their trippy stamp all over it, both Tess and Anton looked completely spent. The partnership may at first seem one of an unexpected nature, however witnessing both seemingly opposites on stage, fully immersed into their creation, they are unquestionably the perfect pairing.