The Tea Party
01-May-2012 The Vanguard, Newtown (Sydney)
April 30, 2012
Reviewed by Brian Giffin
"Did you ever believe it would happen?" asked The Tea Party's Jeff Martin as he took his guitar in front of an intimate but vocal crowd at the Vanguard this evening. Eighteen months ago he wasn't even speaking with Jeff Burrows and Stuart Chatwood, yet here they were tonight, back together for a special performance in Sydney to promote their up-coming reunion tour. They have of course already toured Canada twice, so there weren't any creaks apparent as they plunged into their set, nor could you honestly expect any from a group of men who, except for the last few years, have been in a band together for half their lives.
The crowd was instantly electrified as the trio began to work their spell on the room. Martin’s magnetic personality and rich, booming voice ensured he was the focus as his twelve-string acoustic guitar rang out; beside him Stuart Chatwood fired up the harmonium for the Eastern-inspired favourite “The Bazaar”. Holding things together at the back was Burrows with his array of intricate and ethnic beats, occasionally putting the sticks aside to play using only his bands. His performance didn't reflect it, but his body language seemed to be giving off some negative vibes from some reason, though he did break into a grin when Martin announced that the July tour was already half sold after only a day's worth of sales. Martin was typically gregarious and cheerful, recounting episodes from the band's many previous Australian tours between songs, every one illiciting a cheer or a shout from the audience. Chatwood silently grinned and nodded, switching between bass and guitar throughout the brief showcase where they aired “Save Me”, “The Requiem”, “Sun Going Down” and a smattering of others. It was a mere glimpse of the brilliance of this much-lauded and (going by the reception here tonight) adored group, showing that the magic that enthralled Australians time and again throughout the mid-90s and well into the 00s hasn’t diminished in any demonstrable way. When they return in July in full-blown electric mode, The Tea Party will be something to behold.