New Cross Inn, London, 5/9/2019
published: 6 /
Ben Howarth at the New Cross Inn in London enjoys an emotionally intense set to promote their second album 'Wasted Energy' from rising Melbourne punk band Press Club.
Every once in a while, a band comes along who arrive so fully formed, you can’t quite believe nobody has come up with this idea before.
Press Club are one of those bands. Their songs sound deceptively simple, all big riffs and shouted hooks. And yet, while you feel like you’ve probably heard it all before, you can’t quite work out where. And you certainly can’t work out where you’ve heard it done so well.
Hailing from Melbourne, this four piece gave notice to UK audiences earlier this year when their debut album – already available online – was given an official UK release by Hassle Records. Rather than resting up, they went straight back into the studio to record a second album, ‘Wasted Energy’, which arrived in mid-August. Having been booked to play one of the tents at the Reading Festival, they followed this up with another quick blast round the UK, including tonight’s date at the New Cross Inn.
Following a raucous, but enjoyable set from support band Gloo, Press Club’s lead singer Natalie Foster takes to the stage and asks, politely, ‘Are you ready for a fucking rock show?’ She needn’t have asked, as a noticeable buzz had already been building as the band set up their equipment. Beginning with ‘Separate Houses’, the first track off their new album, and a quick scan of the 200-stronjg audience reveals that a sizeable number are able to sing along to every word, despite the record only having been out a few weeks. It seems as if I’m not the only one who’s had the record on repeat ever since it dropped through my letterbox.
Foster is certainly the band’s lynchpin and focal point – pushing her vocal chords to their limit, whilst hurling herself around the stage. Her songs are packed with emotional intensity, and usually come with a twist (take the gradual realisation that ‘Thinking About You’ is about the fear of being harassed, for example). They aren’t quite melodic in the classic-pop sense, but after a handful of listens, the hooks become addictive and I’ve found myself playing both of their records over and over again.
Around her, the guitar-bass-drums combo of Greg Rietwyk, Iain Macrae and Frank Lees are exceptionally tight, playing very fast but also with skill. Although their core sound takes a well-trodden path in the direction of classic hardcore punk (somewhere between Husker Du and Fugazi), they slip easily down a number of other paths – sometimes ramping up into anthemic, singalong stadium rock and other times breaking it down into awkward, angular post-punk.
As the set went on, the already high energy levels kept rising, as more and more of the audience joined the moshpit. In a fifteen song setlist, there was no flab or filler – the overall quality of both their albums is strikingly high. After an hour, Foster announced that they only had three songs left, teeing up a chorus of boos – before chipping in, “they’re the best songs though.” As they rattled through set-closer 'Suburbia', Foster rampaged through the crowed and ended up leaping from the bar at the far end of the room. As we filtered out, it certainly felt as if Press Club had well and truly conquered this corner of south-east London.
Sadly, Press Club have suggested that this might be their last visit to the UK for “at least a year or maybe longer”. They owe their Australian fans a tour of their own and, I assume, they’ll want to have a go at the US sometime soon. But the memory of this gig will linger – it really was a tour de force of excellent songs, magnetic stage presence and maximum commitment to the simple thrills of rocking out. I can’t remember when I last saw a more exciting show by a young (ish) band – surely, surely, Press Club won’t be playing pub gigs by the time of their next visit. Before then, you owe it to yourself to buy their albums!