COUSIN TONY'S BRAND NEW FIREBIRD
The Brightside, Brisbane
Friday, 24 November 2023
Unmistakably Australian, exponentially exportable—yet, why confine Cousin Tony's Brand New Firebird to a room the size of The Brightside? We won't belabor that point; the band has undoubtedly heard it enough. Moreover, it's a treat for us, the audience, to experience a group of such magnitude, a band which ought to be the size of Coldplay, in the intimate embrace of this room. There's an abundance to absorb, after all.
TAKE US TO CHURCH, COUSIN TONY'S BRAND NEW FIREBIRD!
Whether intentional or inherent, attending a performance by this Melbourne ensemble imparts a sense of cleansing calmness. It remains unclear whether this quality is innate or cultivated, but it undeniably defines the atmosphere. The crowd, fervent for the music, the songs, each band member, Lachlan Gold's flawless baritone, Francesca Gonzales' keytar, Ollie Whitehead's sax, and so on. Opening with 'Love Is Heartbreak' from 2019's New Romancer, the song swiftly unravels the essence of the band, serving as a foundation for what unfolds. Whitehead, wielding his saxophone about two-thirds into the song, introduces a glorious E Street Band vibe, lingering through 'Gabriel's Horn'. The setlist thereafter is an embarrassment of riches, drawing from their three albums and two EPs—a discography that gains depth with each resonating note. 'Red Dirt Angel' and the soaring 'Bluestone' provide an extended euphoric tandem, yet it arguably doesn't surpass the pinnacle reached with 'Every Morning, It Breaks'.
While the mix plays havoc with their clarity, the harmony interplay between Gold, Gonzales, and multi-instrumentalist Peter Simonsen descend like celestial blessings as if piped from the very heavens themselves . Demonstrated earlier in the day at an in-store performance at Catalog Music, these three possess the capacity to deliver a cappella shows with moving results. Likewise, Rose's solo rendition of 'Head Home' stands as a show-stopper, emphasising his role in the band without a trace of ego. He willingly shares the spotlight with each band member, a testament to his genuine passion for music.
Evidently, Rose is a pure music enthusiast, evident in the diverse sounds and colours laced throughout the set, seemingly impervious to trends or fads, anchored solely in the pursuit of damn good songs. The final stretch caters to fans' cravings, with early favourites ('Melbourne Bitter', 'Cool Parties') leading into one of the most exceptional songs in recent memory, 'When It Is Over'.
While no band deserves the recent catalogie Coldplay has presented, Cousin Tony's Brand New Firebird deserves an audience of their size, rightfully earning every fan and accolade coming their way. Their latest album from 2022, Smiles Of Earth, is still growing, rapidly garnering supporters; it was our highest seller of 2023, a fact not lost on us or the band themselves. Reports from the team affirm that this was one of the band's best shows—an unsurprising accolade, given its beyond-ridiculous excellence. Undoubtedly, this performance ranks among the finest witnessed by this reviewer in quite some time. Let's face it—at this juncture in their career, envisioning a performance by Cousin Tony's Brand New Firebird falling below a resounding 10 is an exercise in futility.