The band’s last two albums – Cruel Guards and Rain On The Humming Wire – were absolute crackers, and tonight’s show was also to be our first opportunity to hear some new material after a long five-year wait.
Up first were the slightly muddy-sounding Creatures and Majesty, then the new tracks Weatherman and Car Parks Aggression; these latter two were amazing and definitely whet the appetite for the band’s impending new album. Old favourites Don’t Fight It and Get Us Home (reminiscent of The Shadows’s Theme For Young Lovers) closed the opening set. Those six songs were to be singer/guitarist Jae Laffer’s only vocal work for the evening (apart from the Q&A session at the event’s conclusion). The set felt all too brief, as after just 30 minutes the band slunk from the stage.
The main set however did not disappoint, with The Panics providing the striking instrumental backing to Girt By Sea – a mostly silent documentary cleverly pieced together from over 800 hours of archival sea/beach/coastal footage by acclaimed South Australian filmmaker Shane McNeil.
The visuals and musical accompaniment were perfectly combined, with the most provocative images also featuring the most vivid musical backing. Guitarist Jules Douglas’s slide work was masterful throughout. Scenes of Australian fishermen involved in whaling less than 50 years ago, enhanced by the pulsing soundtrack, brought a few gasps from the audience. Images of shipbuilding, lighthouses, fishing, surfing and families at the beach reminded us of Australia’s true love affair with our nautical surrounds. While the vision was slightly blurry due to the size of the large screen, this didn’t detract from the overall experience.
The movie was produced in conjunction with the ABC, so Panics fans should be able to experience the product either on DVD or whenever it no doubt will appear on television and iView.