Live Music: Martin Martini and The Bone Palace Orchestra @ the Ding Dong lounge
By Michael Italia
Without doubt there is something enticing about the circus; watching a group of wild-eyed misfits, aka circus performers, hold an audience in the palm of their sweaty hands as they showcase incredible talent, perform tricks and escape near-death under a large canvas tent is enthralling, let’s face it. So when a band adopts the same alluring appeal and unprecedented reputation as a circus freak-show grotesquery of art, words and music, it is difficult to comprehend why there would be desire for change. But this is exactly what front man and master of ceremonies, Martin Martini, set out to do at the beginning of 2008.
So with a new line-up and a lot of hype surrounding their first gig in Melbourne for quite some time, an eager crowd crammed inside the warm confinements of the Ding Dong Lounge to see those menacingly attractive freaks and whether their unique brand of circus rock had altered. From the opening moments, their infectious, old-world grooves reeled fans to the front of the stage, all hooked on the music and unpredictable nature of their live show. For the first time, we are treated to cuts from Dream Until You Die with new guitar and bass additions giving their overall sound a somewhat harder, edgy vibe; some wickedly profane, some indignant, some playful and some gloomily pessimistic. Scathing of corporate culture and greed, Martini out-rightly condemns political hypocrisy and stomps all over sacred territory (this is the ‘I caught Jesus sleeping in’ tour after all).
Capturing the attention of the audience – and a few hats from unsuspecting punters – was madman trombonist James Macaulay, aka The Bison, tottering up and down the stage in a flimsy mini skirt like a seasoned burlesque dancer in between gulps of beer while Martini, donning a tattered old wife-beater singlet, projected his bawdy Australian roar of absurdist political commentary in his usual uncompromisable Aussie accent. With a set that fuses funk with jazz and everything from cabaret, blues and gypsy-rock in-between, Martin Martini and his mob of circus freaks – despite the new line-up – still know how create a similar sound so delightfully original and undeniably quirky; except now, it is, well, a lot harder.