With tickets selling out, there was obviously plenty of appetite for the baritone crooner and his cohorts. The air conditioner ensured everyone kept their winter coats on as the gents took the stage in outfits that seemed carefully considered – vibes from the performers and punters that made me feel as though I was in a nightclub scene from an ‘80s flick.
The band kicked off with a new one that led fans on a synthy walk before getting into perhaps Ladder’s most well-known track, Come On Back This Way. It’s classic songwriting that went down well with all. The keyboard riffs and precise drumming were a big stand out. Ladder’s relaxed stage presence showed his experience but it felt as though he was more focused on wooing his crowd than playing for it. Ladder created vivid stories with his Nick Cave-esque vocals and clever lyrics. He also gave fans a brief moment of humility with stage banter about his real name (and middle name), Tim Kenny Rogers, before getting right back into his Jack Ladder role.
The best moments were when the band cut loose, got all discordant and came back together from some kind of organised chaos – it was when the guys were having the most fun. The set featured plenty of cuts from his 2014 album, Playmates, along with a small collection of new tunes. There were melodies reminiscent of Depeche Mode and Talking Heads – the kind of stuff that makes you want to dance while staring at the ground. New single Susan saw the band bring out a couple of backup singers that added an extra layer to Ladder’s strongest new tune. The main set ended with To Keep And To Be Kept, a studio version that features Sharon Van Etten’s vocals. Ladder’s last bit of crowd chat showed that he genuinely does appreciate his audience – something that shone through every now and then. When Ladder truly connected, he really hit the mark.
Highlight: Solid rock bass grooves all night.
Lowlight: Howler’s air conditioner set to cold af.
Crowd Favourite: Come On Back This Way.