Icecream Hands , Andrew Cox, The Wellingtons Live at Northcote Social Club
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Icecream Hands , Andrew Cox, The Wellingtons Live at Northcote Social Club

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The chance to witness Icecream Hands playing 1999’s ARIA-nominated Sweeter Than The Radio in its entirety was a golden opportunity seized by enthusiastic fans and not surprisingly the gig quickly sold out.

The chance to witness Icecream Hands playing 1999’s ARIA-nominated Sweeter Than The Radio in its entirety was a golden opportunity seized by enthusiastic fans and not surprisingly the gig quickly sold out. As Icecream Hands have been on an extended hiatus for the last few years, Chuck and co.’s brand of intelligent powerpop has been sorely missed.

With Icecream Hands being the main course, punters were treated to two entrees. First up were The Wellingtons who rolled out vocal harmonies that conjured memories of early Mavis’, whipped out instruments that looked like brightly coloured toys and sang sweetly about love, a hidden heroin addiction and the joys of Ratcat. After a strong opening number the second act of the evening Andrew Cox (from The Fauves) used his considerable charisma, wit and humour to brighten an occasionally patchy set.

The anticipation bubbling in the air was palpable as the Icecream Hands made their triumphant return to the stage. The capacity crowd provided a suitably raucous welcome and with incredible skill the band proceeded to travel through the fifteen songs from Sweeter Than The Radio and even threw in a couple of juicy extras as a rousing encore.

Each member of the band – natural musicians one and all – appeared to be having a lot of fun and it was evident that the years spent apart had not diminished their ability to work intuitively as a fluid and cohesive unit. The band’s humour, warmth and passion was embraced and reflected back by the attentive audience with many rapt punters greeting each song as if they were dear old friends. The fact that each number in the set sounded like a bona fide classic illustrates why the band are remembered so fondly and have been so critically acclaimed.

As always, the vocal harmonies were astonishing, Chuck’s singing and songwriting was sublime and Doug’s vocals displayed sugar-coated genius. Smiley worked the drums with passion and precision while Marcus Goodwin made his axe sing on each expertly delivered sizzling solo.

When Icecream Hands played their stirring rendition of Come And Get It, penned by Paul McCartney and a hit for Badfinger in 1969, it was hard not to cheer in astonishment as they eclipsed the accomplished original. There aren’t many bands who could so comprehensively improve upon the work of one of powerpop’s hallowed behemoths. When Icecream Hands departed the stage there was a question hanging in the air – why would a band this talented ever even consider retirement? Far from being an exercise in nostalgia, this amazing gig confirmed that Icecream Hands remain as potent and as vital a force as they ever were.