The Brightside, Brisbane
Thursday, October 12th 2023
MAKE NO MISTAKE, Sorry are a compelling proposition live. What is truly astonishing is how this band isn't much bigger and beyond the humble gathering at the Brightside tonight. The London band are finally on their Australian tour, reflecting the sum of their influences, while hosting defiant originality and a cannon of the most unique and interesting of songs which all grapple with themes of isolation, love, lost love and death. They pair lo-fi, downer-pop riffage with abrasive electronics and melodies that are both romantic and eerie. They released their second album, Anywhere But Here, late last year, the sequel to their playful 2020 debut 925, and tonight their setlist draws heavily from both in addition to selections from their Twixtustwain EP and beyond.
Opening subtly, 925 highlight 'As The Sun Sets' provides enough ammunition to quickly enrapture the small but increasingly boisterous crowd. Asha Lorenz is front and centre, toting fierce guitar chops, while studio cohort Louis O'Bryen unassumingly slips to stage right. A duo in the studio, the band swells to five onstage - drums and bass and, most interestingly, a "DJ" type, triggering samples, backing productions flourishes and the between-song commentary that surprisingly works. The band doesn't say much, Asha only offering the occasional quip, but this reluctance is more a commitment to the music than rude. Despite her ostensible timidity, she's a star, playing each song with the ease of a well-seasoned veteran, she doesn't need to say anything for the show to be surprisingly resonant and emotionally-charged.
They're young and cool and as fellow Londoners Shame once described them: "They are not here to impress anyone or write songs they feel would give the A&Rs in the crowd a boner; they are here because music is truly their passion.”
The set continued into 'Key To The City', a sweet slice of songwriting perfection from their Anywhere But Here album. It's actually very easy to overstate just how good their writing is - this song is far from the only one this reviewer would call perfect to be played tonight. As for their setlist, it's so purposefully erratically up and down, it plays like any good genre-jumping playlist or mixtape, forcing us into the moment as one style effortlessly leaps to the next. On record 'Willow Tree' is an introspective bop, onstage it's a dance floor banger, 'Cigarette Packet' is practically drum 'n' bass, providing an upbeat and tasty mid-set highlight that encourages the dancing properly. Another slice of the aforementioned songwriting perfection appears in the form of 'There's So Many People That Want To Be Loved.' In a perfect world, this song would rule in lieu of the relentless overexposure of the top half dozen pop stars that are rammed down our throats, it doesn't seem overly fair really.
Regardless, Sorry continue to bring the hits - 'Leave The Light On' ups the pace, provides the vibe while 'Closer', 'Perfect' and the closing 'Starstruck' provide huge cathartic closing moments to round out a main set that is, well, rather perfect. But the night isn't over just yet. They returned to the stage for an encore, playing 'Jive' and 'Lies' and topping off a flawless set. It says a lot that they omit two of their biggest Aus radio songs ('Right Around The Clock', 'More') and still play a well-rounded set that satiates all.
All in all, Sorry just might be the greatest conundrum of modern music, but make no mistake, they are the real deal, so introverted that they could disappear all together if their songs were not so fantastic. If this were the '80s, we'd be hailing them alongside The Smiths and Blondie. If the '90s, they'd be post-grunge chart toppers vying for attention on soundtracks to Reality Bites or The OC in the early '00s. It's firmly my belief that they'd be significantly bigger had COVID not existed, they barely had the opportunity to tour or promote what can only be described as one of the best debut albums of the last decade or so. Festival stages await if they can push past what basic rights of passage they were robbed of during various lockdowns. But what you make of them is up to you, they're a problem awaiting to be solved and their magnetism is palpable and mysterious. Dearest Sorry, please do hang around, you have to be one of if not the most astonishing bands on the planet at this time - the world will catch up real soon.