Pond @ Electric Ballroom

The Perth psych rockers embarked on their tour of the UK on the 20th of February in Sheffield but the fourth night in North London was certainly one to savour.

Support came from London-based band Younghusband who provided a suitably rocky, post-punk, shoegaze and even slightly psychedelic opening to proceedings with several songs that I found myself engaged in almost immediately. After not ever hearing this band before I was beginning to really enjoy them but this was short-lived as…

POND pranced on stage in all their glory to immense cheers from the Ballroom crowd with frontman Nick Allbrook sporting a nicely patterned kimono and synth player Jamie Terry sporting nothing but a fantastic hair/beard combination as well as a smile that could have filled the entire room. The eloquent foursome (without bassist Julian Barbagallo who recently left the ever-changing line up of Pond) got the ball rolling with emerging fan favourite and beginning track on the new record ‘Waiting Around For Grace’. This song burst into life much like the crowd did after the initial slower intro and seemed to get everyone into the Australian psychedelic mood with its impeccably joyous tone and undisputed ‘catchy’ nature.

As the set continued in the same upbeat, frantic fashion with ‘Elvis’ Flaming Star’, more frenzied dancing/verging on moshing was incited for the first time as this song’s more unrelenting or continuous nature lent itself to this kind of reaction. The next block of songs consisting of ‘Heroic Shart’ (a clear favourite of the band), ‘You Broke My Cool’, ‘Don’t Look at the Sun or You’ll Go Blind’ and then ‘Sitting Upon Our Crane’ all provoked differing responses from the relatively youthful crowd with the second of the four off the first record receiving a perhaps surprising, overwhelming response as the chorus consisting of ‘You… You broke my cool, yeah, yeah, yeah…’ and so on being bellowed out like it was a number one hit which I personally revelled in. ‘Don’t Look at the Sun…’, a song that the band pride on ‘getting the crowd going’ did this with a certified amount of vigour that sent the crowd into endless moshing with people falling over and piling on top of one another. This track which isn’t on any of the band’s records can always be relied on to create havoc in a crowd.

‘Sitting Upon Our Crane’ and ‘Holding Out For You’ provided more solitary rest bite from the craziness of the majority of the set as well as giving Nick Allbrook a break from his wonderfully elaborate frontman duties to let drummer Jay Watson and guitarist Joe Ryan provide the vocals on these two tracks to great effect despite guitarist Ryan in particular looking the most apprehensive about singing alone on ‘Holding Out For You’. He needn’t of worried. The crowd now beginning to look slightly bedraggled and fatigued were revitalised with a funky Brian Eno cover of ‘Baby’s on Fire’ and then into Hobo Rocket favourite ‘Giant Tortoise’ combined with golden oldie ‘Pond in a Park’ which resulted in chaotic movement from the crowd with the change in pace of the song meaning in the slower parts all the listener is yearning for is the next ripple of battering drums and recognisable guitar riff.  As this track almost had everyone finished off, with only the more resilient left standing, the band decided to give the others a chance to get their breath back with a great rendition of ‘Holding Out For You’ before going into the closing song of the main set, ‘Midnight Mass (At The Market Street Payphone)’ which in its 6 minute entirety was a crazed, hard-hitting and damn right riotous end to the set. With its vastly intense crescendo of drums and Allbrook’s echoing vocals the battered and bruised crowd were left longing for just an ounce more of Pond magic as they left the stage…

Much to the delight of the packed Ballroom, the foursome returned onto stage moments after as they entered into the psychedelic whirlwind that is the title track off their latest record, ‘Man It Feels Like Space Again’. This was a completely justified ending to a set that twisted and turned as well as provoking a variety of responses from the crowd many of which involved chaos and excitement. There were the minority that still had the energy to try and incite moshes at what they viewed as the most appropriate moments but the vast majority marvelled at the genius of this constantly deferential 8 minute masterclass whilst gently swaying and sauntering at the same time.
At the close of the set, many were left in a psychedelic blur as the band left on stage an abundance of constantly flickering vibrant lighting as well as synth and guitar sounds that unsettled the head a little. Some may have been a little disheartened with the absence of tracks like ‘Zond’, ‘Medicine Hat’, ‘Xanman’ and perhaps ‘Eye Pattern Blindness’ but one thing many would have almost certainly taken away from the show though was that they’d seen perhaps the best live psych act around in current times even if they had taken a bit of a battering to do so.
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