Mini Mansions at The Waterfront Studio - 18/05/2019
Sons of Raphael opened the night with their dark tinged dream pop which experimented with a lot of different sounds overlaid with fuzzy vocals. Their new age experimentation prepared the crowd for the the solid sound of guitar and synth from iconic of Mini Mansions.
Walking on to the stage to Buddy Holly’s ‘Everyday’, the L.A. trio were all suit-clad as they prepared to deliver their unique style of classic rock with a modern vision. They opened the set with three massive hits from their sophomore album The Great Pretenders: ‘Freakout!’ set the tone of the show and the driving bass had everyone in the studio grooving as well as yelling “I been down. I been down. I been down!” along with front man Michael Schuman; ‘Death is a Girl’ came straight after with the hook of the chorus fuzzing out from Schuman’s guitar and Tyler Parkford’s backing vocals assuring us to “Live in a world with only one day”; ‘Creeps’ finished the introduction to their set with it's slow swaying beat and slick guitar riffs along with Schuman and Parkford harmonising vocals towards the end of the song.
The set then works through a couple of tracks from their 2018 EP Works Every Time including the synth heavy ‘Midnight in Tokyo’ and the melancholic ‘Works Every Time’. They played four tracks from their new album Guy Walks Into a Bar including the singles: ‘GummyBear’, ‘Hey Lover’ and ‘Bad Things (That Make You Feel Good)’. These new songs were executed well and showed their consistent ability to make new music for a live show but it was the performance of their older songs that really demonstrated their power as a live rock band.
The Great Pretenders was the backbone for this show and enabled them to fully exercise their muscles as a modern band with heavy rock roots, with Jon Theodore (their drummer on this tour and Guy Walks Into A Bar) and Michael Schuman both being a part of the legendary Queens of the Stone Age. The singles ‘Vertigo’ and ‘Any Emotion’ were performed with a certain nuance that made the songs truly their own due to the original guest features on those songs not being present: Alex Turner and Brian Wilson.
The last two songs they played were the cream of the entire gig. ‘Honey I’m Home’ echoed the choral effects the band produces when both Parkford and Schuman harmonise on the vocals and the song established their affirmative presence within the venue. With no pause in between we get the beastly opening chords of 'Mirror Mountain', easily the heaviest song on The Great Pretenders, and we see Schuman’s showmanship explode. The man dances with the guitar as he shreds out the licks that embody their entire aesthetic: composed but loud. Schuman and bassist Zach Dawes stand back to back while beating out the riffs and exuding a chaotic energy that succeeds in riling up the crowd: the mosh pits have opened and a girl is on someones shoulders. Schuman notices this and wanders closer to the barrier, hair drooping over his eyes and continues to knock out the notes on his guitar before ditching the instrument and straddling the barrier as the entire band riffed around the ending of the song. The energy of this band is visceral and powerful at the same time as being composed and joyous in performing together. Mini Mansions, while only playing club venues for headline tours, have opened for the likes of Royal Blood and Arctic Monkeys but their originality exceeds the mainstream success of these bands and a venue like The Waterfront is the perfect place to experience the potent energy of their live performances.