There’s something to be said for a classic, rock n’ roll band. For a genre that seems less relevant to the contemporary music scene than ever, there something pure and magical about seeing a good rock band in their element, and Holy Holy are most certainly that. They’re not out to reinvent the genre, or to innovate in any particular way, but they are out to nail their bombastic guitar solos, turn up their U2 delays, and sing their hearts out in “whoa-oa-oa” choruses, and it creates an atmosphere of electrifying fun.
It also doesn’t hurt that frontman Timothy Carroll has a talent for soaring, grandiose hooks infected with melancholy that recall the better works of Bruce Springsteen. The songs Holy Holy play are catchy, and they play the hell out of them. Oscar Dawson has the look of a classic rock-star with his long mop of hair, and his enthusiasm for his guitars is infectious. Holy Holy are a band that seem to genuinely enjoy performing, and the packed Oxford Art Factory in Sydney was very receptive to them. The crowd near the stage danced despite the leisurely tempos of many of the songs, and the choruses to the singles were repeated by many members of the audience.
Those singles were the strongest moments of the show; History, the bands biggest hit so far, displaying an impressive mastery of rise-fall dynamics, as a catchy guitar riff built following the vocal hook in the chorus. Their newest single, A Heroine, features vocal harmonies reminiscent of several folk artists, Anaïs Mitchell in particular. It proved a nice change from Carroll’s big, optimistic vocals. You Cannot Call for Love Like a Dog came alive with stabbing guitar chords and pounding, dense drums, that faded out to ethereal delayed echoes in the verses. House of Cards closed out the main set (before the encore), and saw a folksy guitar line build to a huge, rocking climax.
The band also have a knack for live pyrotechnics, with varied lighting that even stretched to Jersey Boys-esque silhouetted backlighting at one point. One of the two opening acts, synth-pop artist Olympia (the other being The Franklin Electric) was brought on stage to sing with the band. It gave the show an energy separate from their records, and the frequent guitar solos added even more adrenaline without ever becoming overblown. Holy Holy, whilst hardly reinventing the musical wheel, know how to write some good songs, and how to draw as much fun out of performing every single one.