GREENLEAF, Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows. The Vanguard, Newtown. 8-11-2019.


Words El Jefe.

So it’s Friday night, and catching Greenleaf was the only thing on my agenda. I took a stroll the length of King St, and took in the scenes. A warmish Friday night, and the hordes were out!

I missed Arrowhead unfortunately, although I have seen them countless times over the last decade of so. Easily the best and most consistent stoner band Sydney has ever produced, a classic power trio led by Brett Pearl, whose guitar and vocals are both world class.

Next up was (were?) Jack Harlon And The Dead Crows, a Mexican outfit on tour with Greenleaf. Having heard several excellent reports about these dude, I was keen as mustard to get a birdseye view. They certainly didn’t disappoint me either! Fat as fuck, greasy-sounding guitars, an excellent drummer and a ripsnorting bassist who left nothing behind when they plowed through their set of stoner/psyche/blues rock that easily coulda been straight outta ’69. Great presence, and a lot of the set left me feeling like I was swimming in a heavy swell and the dark was closing in, such were the dynamics of the band. Check ‘em out! I grabbed a copy of their LP Hymns as well, which I’m sure will be getting some heavy use very soon.

I caught Greenleaf last year at The Chippo (I think), headlining a killer bill. The aforementioned Arrowhead, Hypergiant and stoner-punk duo Witch Fight were all on the bill. I’d heard rave reports from interstate friend about Greenleaf, but that gig wasn’t their night. The PA was totally inadequate, and after a couple of songs, frontman Arvid Hällagård (sporting a broken foot) cut a song short, and hit the soundman up to fix the onstage sound as he couldn’t hear himself. Kinda tough for a vocalist in that situation! The sound out front was also pretty shit, and on the whole, the band never really got to hit it. I left disappointed, but knew the score. That night had just not been their night.

Tonight, from the first bounce it was clear that the band was ON. They opened with ‘Sweet Is The Sound’ and ‘Our Mother Ash’, and continued with tunes from the last three LP’s, which kinda makes sense as prior releases had different vocalist. This show was shaping to be a whole other kettle of monkeys, with guitarist Tommi Holappa blasting out his killer riffs, and the band in total lockstep with each other. Bassist Hans Fröhlich attacked his bass like it was his mortal enemy, whilst Arvid prowled the stage and cut loose with his huge tonsils, at times reminding me of Neil Fallon and his “southern preacher” stance, and hit us with some quirky tales of being on tour, and toenail fetishes. ‘Oh My Bones’, ‘Good Ol’ Goat’ and ‘Ocean Deep’ all got a hefty workout, and the band was working overtime tonight. As a band, they’re tighter than a ducks arse, and play with a deep-rooted passion as well as a technical proficiency that makes for a killer unit. We got a monstrous 90 minute set, and a couple of bruising tunes for an encore (can’t recall which; they sell good beer at the Vanguard!), and left me with some fresh damage to my hearing. All up, it was an awesome show, and certainly wiped my psyche clean!