Saskwatch played a momentous show at Max Watt’s House of Music on Friday night, with the now six-piece lineup hitting the stage for their first Melbourne performance since the departure of their horn section and drummer. With support from Dorsal Fins, the local legends launched their new single ‘I’ll Be Fine’ and showcased their new sound and songs.

As the instantly recognisable music from the ‘Piracy, It’s A Crime’ ad played, some familiar faces made their way onto the stage. Featuring the amazing vocal stylings of Ella Thompson, Jim Lawrie and Rob Muinos, Dorsal Fins showed they knew how to start a party, especially when they busted out a cover of “The Australian national anthem,” aka Kate Ceberano’s 90s classic hit ‘Pash.’ What started as Liam McGorry’s side project has exploded into an incredible collaboration whose performance can best be summed up by Rob’s overexcited statement “I JUST WANT TO PARTY WITH MY FRIENDS AND HAVE A GOOD TIME” which he yelled (5 times in rapid succession) at the start of Fins’ 80s inspired jam ‘Heart On The Floor’.

After taking to the stage to the sounds of Tom Jones, Saskwatch quickly changed the tone, opening with the powerful ‘Left Me To Die.’ Immediately the lack of horn section was noticeable but not in the way that I expected, I found the new arrangement actually made the music seem stronger and the transposition of the horn lines to guitars significantly adjusted and, at least in my opinion, improved the overall colour of the song. Combined with their new single ‘I’ll Be Fine,’ it was the perfect opening to the show and quickly proved to the fans that change can be a positive thing.

Along with some new tracks, their set was comprised mostly of material from last year’s Nose Dive which, in their reversioned forms, had more clarity than ever. One advantage of dropping the horns is the added space in the songs, giving Rob on guitar and Olaf on the keyboards more room to shine, and definitely putting more emphasis on Nkechi’s stunning vocals and lyrics. The brass wasn’t completely gone though, with Liam picking up the trumpet for their cover of Jagwar Ma’s ‘Let Her Go.’

There’s no denying that they still have a heart of soul but the departure of the horn section has given Saskwatch the freedom to shake off their ‘busking band’ history to become the ‘rock band’ they should be. The songs definitely benefit from the lineup change and that should follow through for the band on the whole.

Wes Fahey

FULL GALLERY HERE

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