IF we’re a city fighting to save live music, we could do a lot worse than having Abbe May as an ally.
The Perth pop provocateur’s continued evolution is one of the better kept secrets of Australian music.
From breakthrough album Design Desire’s titanic riffage through to the doom-laden dance floor fillers from Kiss My Apocalypse, there’s something for everyone.
The Saturday crowd in The Cambridge’s front bar is relaxed, almost as much as May herself. Travelling without her band (“The venue asked I only bring the best looking members of the band,” she jokes), the looping backing tracks hold their own.
Despite struggling to hear the beats that drive her songs for most of the set, the sound pouring over the punters is impeccable. May soldiers on, delivering the laconic Bitchcraft in all its glory.
Latest album Fruit (nee Bitchcraft) blends the Seventies vibes of her high-voltage rock side with the danceable beats of later pieces, emerging in the torch song piano that kicks off Love Decline.
May almost forgets to play the single, admits it and delivers it towards the end of the set. It’s a testament to songs like Tinderella, Karmageddon and Are We Flirting? that a track of that calibre can go AWOL almost unnoticed.
With a welcome no-encore approach, complete with pantomimed walk off stage, May shows off her formidable guitar chops with a closing Cast That Devil Out.
It’s the best song Nick Cave never wrote (and better than some he did), full of yearning mythical allusions and pet names laced with menace. It’s a perfect way to finish it off.
Promising she’ll be back, May heads straight from the stage to hand out hugs to all the punters. She is gracious and gregarious, just as she appears on stage.
Hopefully there’s a few new Novocastrian fans ready to greet her upon her next visit. I’m sure the eager crowd from the Cambridge will be bringing friends.