howling bells at newport[/center] The Howling Bells screamed into town for two shows, during their homecoming tour for The Loudest Engine.Playing at the Newport in Fremantle was a surprise as the band can pack a joint way bigger and did so, having played at Amplifier a day earlier but the smaller venue made for a nicer, laid back and more intimate setting.
The new album is different, there is no arguing with that, and certainly a lot more risky considering that their last album did not do as well as their first. In a recent interview, Juanita Stein had said: “The album shows that we’re 21st century kids making a modern psychedelic record. [It] is our grown up record. The first was about that great initial leap, the second was us exploring different waters. This one is us, all having met at one place, at one time. I think this record will change people’s perspectives of the band.” The diverse crowd was evidence of the fact that their newer material has appealed to different types of people who might not otherwise have heard of the band. Some of the crowd seemed hyper, salivating to see the Howling Bells but others came across a little more curious and able to stand back and let things unfold.
“Into The Sky”, the current signature single of the new album, produced by Mark Stoermer (of The Killers fame) seemed to make everyone sing along and move to the 70’s-like psychedelic sounds, some taking the opportunity to step back in time and try some 70’s dance moves of their own which was perhaps even more entertaining than watching the stage. Hanging out for “Charlatan” came to be a game I played in my own head, the song is a little grindy, rough and low, and I betted, easier for Juanita Steins’ to sing live. Other songs during the night left her floaty and pretty voice almost a little lost among all the other activity going on but it is worth pointing out that she makes up for it via her knack for being an interesting frontwoman to watch – able to exert tonnes of attitude from a tiny frame and a pleasant, non-threatening voice.
A few songs from older albums were thrown in but seemingly lacked enthusiasm at times, the band coming across like they were just going through the routine and were waiting on the end of their set – maybe it was overexertion from Stein’s quirky (dance?) moves. The Howling Bells Newport show was definitely for the fans but new listeners might have mistaken them for another local group with the ability to go somewhere in the future. It was a good night but I couldn’t help but feel that maybe I should have gone to their Amplifier show the night before.