Live Review: Sahara Beck, The Golden Age of Ballooning, Jon Marsden @ The Foundry

There are few better places to be on a Friday night than in a venue like The Foundry, listening to one of the most fascinating vocalists in the city.

Golden Age Of Ballooning’s songs were almost as funky and raucous as the hairstyles. The songs featured infectious riffs, dreamy vocal harmonies, and a whole lot of psychedelic rock edge, which together made for a brooding, intense atmosphere, almost like a vampire romance film. From the spellbinding lead guitar riffs in So They Say to the sweet vocal harmonies in Love & War, each track had a golden feature.

Jon Marsden was next to take the stage, accompanied by a handful of surprisingly young-looking band members, who were living proof that age really is just a number. Combining catchy guitar riffs and a charismatic vocal tone, Marsden’s sound seemed effortless as it drifted between jazzy intros and funky rhythms. Throughout the set, the addition of saxophone made each number that little bit more memorable.

Marsden looked almost complacent standing with his arms flopped over his guitar, but there was something refreshing about his ability to have fun on stage. He had clear chemistry with his band members, which included Sahara Beck’s younger brother Ocean on the keys. Marsden’s performance was a psychedelic journey, best summed up by final track So Easy as it swept the crowd into an irresistible rhythmic groove.

Sahara Beck has developed a reputation for shining on stage, and shine she did, dressed in a gold, sequinned jumpsuit, shimmering platform sneakers and glittery eyeshadow.

With long-time friends and fans packing out the room, old favourite Spinning Time took on a life of its own. She danced around the stage with unshakable confidence, and carried the same energy through Don’t Overthink It. Her quirky stage persona was at odds with the seriousness of her lyrics, but, as usual, the combination made for an irresistibly entertaining performance.

Contrasts peppered throughout the set kept the crowd on their toes and showed off Beck’s versatility as a writer and performer. Moving from the dance-y energy of Kryptonite to the playfulness of I Haven’t Done A Thing Today and back to Queen of Hearts proved an intriguing near-end to the setlist. Despite stiff competition, 21st Century was easily amongst the set highlights, because of its powerful, pertinent lyrics about the state of the environment. I’m In Love was also up there since, even years after its release, it never fails to reach new emotional highs.

For her first-ever headline set at The Foundry, Beck wore her excitement on her sleeve, and let her joy spread through the venue. On this night in her hometown, she truly was the Queen Of Hearts.