Gig review – The Lucksmiths, Hopetoun Hotel 2008

When Lucksmiths singer/drummer Tali White goes to introduce ‘Successlessness’ there’s a bit of discussion between him and his songwriter/guitarist Marty Donald, the upshot of which seems to be that they’ve worked out there aren’t enough ‘S’ tiles in a game of scrabble to make the song’s title. Donald would know: if the hangman-themed magnets at the merch stand or the fact his favourite possession is a thesaurus didn’t give it away, these songs, filled with neat puns, obscure references and acute detail amply make the point: the man is a wordsmith extraordinaire.

Clever lyrics are all well and good, but the thing that makes The Lucksmiths such an absolutely lovable live band is the irrepressible bounciness of their stage presence, their intelligent optimism. It’s there in the assured reassurance of ‘A Hiccup In Your Happiness’ , the stolen romance of ‘Southernmost’ and ‘Sunlight in a jar’, a song about the futility of summing up “complex, credible love” in musical form that’s all the more affecting for its hard-won hope. You’d have to search your vocabulary for new words to describe the good-natured storytelling of ‘Great Lengths’ or the winning jangle of ‘The Chapter in Your Life Entitled San Francisco’. By the time they reach the second-last song, the exuberant ‘T-Shirt Weather’, the Hopetoun feels so filled with glee it seems altogether likely it may actually explode. The Lucksmiths are nobody’s idea of a dangerous band, but how many other groups threaten venues with joy-fuelled spontaneous combustion? That’s punk rock. And oh yeah, they’d probably kick your ass at Scrabble.

Originally appeared in: Mess and Noise

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