Australian psych rock titans Ocean Alley dazzled the sold out St.Ives Guildhall
St.Ives is a Cornish seaside village mostly known for aggressive seagulls (keep them pasties hidden), idyllic scenery, surf, and it’s artistic community. During the summer months it plays host to a wave of tourists all looking for a seaside escape, so it’s hard to imagine it being a location for a touring band.
However, in the instance of last night the St Ives Guildhall played host to one of Australia’s most successful and prominent psych bands, Ocean Alley. It was hard to beleive that they’d be playing in a venue that is hidden behind a variety of crooked buildings and wonky pathways, but they were, and it made the night all that more far out.
As we entered the historic building it was immediately clear what a treat this was to watch both Will And The People and Ocean Alley in such a unique and small space. Not to say the venue is tuny, not by any means but considering the size of the bands, it was a rare opportunity.
Kicking the night off was the the frantic and anarchic sounds of Will And The People, an interesting blend of characters and sounds. It was a sound that blended the early 2000’s indies with The Pixies, with a sprinkling of punk poetry for good measure. There stage presence was utterly infectious as well, with the crazed eyes of front man Will Rendle constantly browsing through the horizon. Not to mention his flailing movements across the stage. It was incredibly entertaining all round, especially in the closing song ‘Animal’, which saw Will Rendle throw himself into the crowd on multiple occasions (the first attempt resulting in a head dive towards the ground).
After a quick changeover and stage preparation Ocean Alley were primed and ready to conquer St. Ives. The lights dimmed low and the instantly recognisable riff of ZZ Top‘s ‘La Grange’ echoed throughout the Guildhall. As they strutted out it wasn’t long before they broke out into ‘Tombstone’, a psych barrage that filled the room. As the guitar licks swept gently over the crowd and the smooth vocals of Baden Donegal trickled into the ear canals it was evidently clear they had the crowd in their palms.
The crowd was hanging off every note that they threw out, reciprocating with shouts, cheers and hollas, and for good reason. Ocean Alley put on one hell of a show, playing through their back catalogue, tracks such as ‘Confidence’, ‘Knees’, and ‘Yellow Mellow’ delighted fans, new and old. Not to mention that as a band they were incredibly tight, not a note out of tune. It was hard not to be enamoured by the band as they swayed across the stage, dishing out sonic psych delicacies. However, there was one moment that I am desperate to talk about, a moment that nearly brought me to tears. Around half way through the set, I heard the familiar guitar tones of ‘Breathe’ by Pink Floyd, and I couldn’t beleive it, a medley that included ‘Comfortably Numb’ and ‘Money’ ensued. You have to be brave to cover any track by Pink Floyd, but to do it so confidently and so beautifully was truly moving. If anyone doubted this band as musicians, this would have firmly boasted their skills as artists. It was a very special moment that will remain with me till the day I die.
It was a stunning performance from both bands, with Ocean Alley cementing themselves in the towns history. I don’t doubt there won’t be a person in St Ives not talking about that performance for time to come. What a true delight and treat to witness.