Home News Review: THE TEA PARTY – TRIPtych25 – Enmore Theatre – 21 June 24

Review: THE TEA PARTY – TRIPtych25 – Enmore Theatre – 21 June 24

14 min read

In the midst of a very chilly start to our winter, Sydney desperately needed some thawing respite and how fortunate were we that this came in the form of a musical thunderbolt like no other, our Canadian sons from another motherland, the musically superior The Tea Party.    

The Enmore was buzzing. Fans were whirring and taking photos in front of The Tea Party sidewalk advertisement, some bringing their kids, from what I could see, to initiate them in this special club, while others kept milling about and waiting for their friends to arrive. It’s always a treat when bands celebrate album milestones and you get to hear some of your other favourite songs that you haven’t heard for many years. So when I heard that there was going to be a celebration for their wonderful 1999 album, TRIPtych, I couldn’t stay away.

After a support from ‘Human Kebab’ to get the crowd nicely primed, the venue was well and truly brimming from wall to wall with die-hard fans. The drinks were flowing, family and friends excitedly chatted amongst themselves, anticipating this long-awaited rendezvous. From what I can remember, it has been about 5 years since the last tour. That’s way too long for Tea Party fans. It’s also nearly 30 years since I first observed this musical spectacle, like no other, at Selina’s in Coogee when the band were first showcasing their other brilliant album, (we all know they have many), ‘The Edges of Twilight’. However, on this tour, it’s all about the aural maze of this TRIPtych album and boy does The Tea Party never disappoint as this was another corker of a gig.

How apt that Sydney gets to have this night on our actual winter solstice but, as we come together to celebrate, it’s all heat and power as Jeff Martin, Jeff Burrows and Stuart Chatwood make their way to the stage, along with a deafening welcome from the faithful. The grins of joy are everywhere and the atmosphere is one that you would only understand when coming to a Tea Party gig. I can barely contain myself when one of my favourites, ‘The Halcyon Days’, ignites this musical fire for the night. With those blissful and hypnotic strings, this was the perfect choice for first song. My friends and I give each other those knowing looks of satisfaction and acknowledgement that this will be another unforgettable memory to add to our list.

Then the band go back to some ‘Edges’ songs with the thumping ‘The Grand Bazaar’ until we go back to TRIPtych with ‘Underground’ being spliced with some ‘Walk On The Wild Side’. This has already been a blistering start to the set. The band are 200% spot on and they sound as clear and heavy as they have always been. Working and weaving concertedly, within this musical mosaic they have created together, until they take us back to the Transmission album’s ‘Psychopomp’.    

Some more TRIPtych is up next, with ‘The Messenger’ intertwined with Jeff Buckley’s ‘The Last Goodbye’, until the tender ‘Gone’ and ‘These Living Arms’, from the same headlining album, continue tonight’s sweet delights. The unique and stunning vocals from Maestro Martin bounce off the Enmore walls as perfectly and powerfully as always and Burrows and Chatwood don’t miss a beat. It’s been a fiery performance all round from The Tea Party, with much more on its way as we hear the familiar sound of ‘Save Me’ from their debut album Splendor Solis permeating across the crowd. This extended rendition is blended in with another TRIPtych favourite, ‘Samsara’ as Martin brings out his violin bow and lovingly caresses his guitar which brings ferocious cheers and claps from the fans.

Everyone starts to sway as the music is meditative and the lighting at every Tea Party gig has always been exceptional. Tonight, I look up above the stage, while ‘Save Me/Samsara’ is playing, and it is like a Rothko painting has come to life, illuminating and changing colour, with light but thick brushstrokes radiating from above the band. ‘Wow’, I say to myself, ‘maybe I did drink too much coffee before heading out tonight’, but no, this was all a part of the night as I have seen some photos since and the lighting really did work with the band on another level. Glorious music, colour layered in this liquid-like montage, just heightens a Tea Party concert experience. Gosh, we have missed this. The band is strong, look great and lucky Canada are next on their touring path in July, even if Martin then professes that Sydney are the ‘best rock’n roll crowd in the world’.

We take a quick breath after that seductive adventure and it’s straight into another TRIPtych gem, ‘Heaven Coming Down‘ infused with some U2’s ‘With Or Without You’. Tonight’s audience have been a 10 out of 10.  Engaged, enthralled and lapping up every offering from Martin and the band. That breath was short lived as a torrid ‘Temptation’ from the Transmission album blows the venue apart, with Burrows on fire and Martin and Chatwood going all out. The heat has been building and I missed that some sweating has begun, that’s how engrossing the night has been that you just ignore everything else. I was also surprised that Burrows didn’t break some skins as he was pummeling with such power and precision. It was a tantalising end to this main set and left the fans begging for more. Burrows is still one of the best drummers in the business and the years have not wearied him at all.   

No one was moving and everyone needed more to quelch this thirst that has been parched since the last Tea Party tour. We see the band return for their encore and go back to the Splendor Solis album with the joyful instrumental ‘Winter Solstice’. The venue erupts with claps, moving along to the guitar and drums and it’s ‘thump, thump, thump’ as this tune belies its name. It may have the word ‘winter’ in its title but it has always felt like the opposite of cold. Such a charming and inviting instrumental, you envisage a winter but one that is warm, calm and non threatening. Until we are thrown into the sensual rapture of The Edges Of Twilight album favourite ‘Sister Awake’. Another cracking long mix, with some ‘Paint It Black’ and ‘Heroes’, this classic is always welcome with its thundering drums and eclectic mix of instruments. I love how Chatwood’s keyboards thread their way through the Tea Party tunes, always adding their own layer to this magical sound. ‘Sister Awake’ is loving yet hedonistic, sultry and realistic, and still sounds as fresh now as it did back in 1995. The fans explode with cheers, whistles and claps and give tonight a standing ovation, which I have actually never not seen at a Tea Party gig, they are that good and beloved.    

The Enmore has received this band numerous times over the last few decades and once again The Tea Party leave Sydney and Australia wanting more. Martin mentioned during the gig not waiting too long again for their next tour and I also thought I heard new music was on its way. We all look forward to this in the future and this next chapter that we all get to share with the illustrious Tea Party.

© 2024 MARINA KNEZEVIC. All rights reserved.

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