In Fitzroy’s tiny Old Bar, Mikelangelo and The Tin Star appear onstage and people cram between walls and archways to watch. The booming baritone which is Mikelangelo’s voice fills the room, reaching to the high ceiling and making the already tiny room and its inhabitants shake with anticipation. The band plays what is best described as 60s surf rock meets Nick Cave in the dark hours of a bender in the Wild West. Confusing? Yes. Does it work? Absolutely.
“Come on baby let’s take a ride, all the way to the other side,” croons Mikelangelo, making the idea of getting into the car with a total stranger not just appealing but totally necessary. The Tin Star are the perfect backbone to the show, solidly backing without trying to compete with the larger than life and hilarious Mikelangelo.
Singing that his “baby is a sourpuss, her morals are a tad loose”; he pulls out his comb and slicks back his damaged quiff. During “Action Is My Middle Name” Mikelangelo throws on a pair of aviators and once again the comb makes another appearance, channelling some sort of a cross between gun slinging badass and 60s misfit looking for a rumble to absolute perfection.
Joking “Ryan Gosling look out, the old guys are moving in”, it is time for the evening’s very special guest – Miss Amanda Fucking Palmer of the Dresden Dolls – to join the guys onstage for a duet. Their song of choice? Something by a little known Australian songwriter by the name of Paul Kelly. “We’re hoping that triple j Unearthed will pick him up and he’ll go a long way.” Launching into “Before Too Long”, Palmer takes lead vocals and her deep, raspy voice compliments the song beautifully and the audience responds with deafening applause.
The music is put on hold for an impromptu auction of a ukulele owned by Mikelangelo that is looking for a new home due to lack of use and because “my rent is due tomorrow”. After throwing in the promise that that band will sign the ukulele, Palmer also promises to put it down the front of her pants. The $80 ukulele ends up going for $20 and the divine AFP plays “Ukulele Anthem” (look it up on YouTube, it may just be the key to world peace) to the lucky new owner of said ukulele before departing the stage.
Mikelangelo and The Tin Star guys barely miss a beat before diving into the next tune “Though Hell And High Water” and pull some Elvis worthy shapes. Pulling another friend stage, Konrad Lenz joins the band to play a couple of his songs including the haunting “Illustrated Man”.
Slowing things down with the ballad “Oh Me, Oh My”, a duet usually performed with Saint Clare. Sadly Saint Claire is not in attendance due to illness which leaves Mikelangelo to tackle the song (and its high notes) solo and he does this great aplomb.
Leaving us with the thought “It would be a sad, tawdry, tired old world without music”, the band finishes up with “No Sign Of A Pipeline” which brings out the inner go-go dancer of all in attendance. Mikelangelo and The Tin Star are a perfect example of why it is so important to get behind SLAM and to go and see bands.
– Madison Thomas