Live Review: The Superjesus At Manning Bar - Fri 19th Oct

Live Review: The Superjesus At Manning Bar - Fri 19th Oct

You couldn't ask much more from live music than this.

Touring for the 20th anniversary of debut album Sumo, Adelaide four-piece the Superjesus delivered passionate, pummelling rock with such chemistry it was hard to believe only half the band who made that record were present.

One of those was the charismatic Sarah McLeod, who remains among the greatest front-people this country has produced.

The 45-year-old left nothing in reserve on this night, her voice soaring and remaining strong over two hour-long sets of demonically heavy riffage: the first a play-through of Sumo, the second a hits-and-bits from its two successors.

McLeod's rapport with bass player Stuart Rudd, with whom she formed the band in 1994, was a joy to watch. Rudd's frame these days is as beefy as his bottom-end, while guitarist Jason Slack and drummer Travis Dragani – who only joined the Superjesus a couple of years ago – played as if the 1998 debut was imprinted on their souls.

Full of ominous down-tunings, weirdly-voiced chords and soul-searching lyrics, the rollicking beast that is Sumo took on a life of its own when conjured by the Superjesus 2.0.

The steamroller riff of opener Down Again, the urgent Ashes and loping Honey Rider sounded as vital as they did in 1998. Now and Then remained an emotional high point even without the orchestral accompaniment of the original.

Perhaps the highlight was the moody Sandfly, which got a huge, Eastern-influenced breakdown that the band seemed to make up on the spot.

The second set of songs from Sumo's more success-conscious follow-ups – 2001's Jet Age and 2003's Rock Music – was not as revelatory but still plenty entertaining.

McLeod's heartfelt solo keyboard turn on Second Sun was a nice break from the aural assault, before Confide in Me crunched Kylie Minogue's original into the dirt, and hits Secret Agent Man and Gravity closed the show on a head-banging, sing-along high.

It would be a shame for a band this good to be relegated to the nostalgia files. A couple of recent songs, notably 2016's breakneck Love and Violence, pointed to a future for the Superjesus in the spirit of its no-holds-barred past.

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