Melbourne-based melodic rockers The Radio Sun have over the past four years become regulars at the HRH AOR Festival in North Wales, winning friends both for their music and their sociable nature, entering into the spirit of the occasion. Though as someone who has not been to HRH for some years, oddly my only previous exposure to them had been at a couple of the Melodic rock fests in Chicago organised by their fellow countryman Andrew McNeice.
This year however they stepped outside that familiar environment to also play their first UK headline show in the cosy confines of the Water Rats, where a refurbishment seems to have made it shrink since I last saw a gig there some years ago. The turnout was not great, but sufficient to create an atmosphere, especially with the band knowing various audience members by name.
They even played two sets, the acoustic set beginning in excellent style with ‘Wrong Things Right’ which I remember from their very first album, with ‘One In A Million’ not far behind.
In between the likes of ‘You Got The Touch’ there was plenty of banter led by curly-haired singer Jason Old with guitarist Steve Janevski his dry foil. The harmonies from Styx t-shirt wearing bassist Anth Wong and Steve were exquisite while in true Aussie style, the set closed with a cover of ‘Never Tear Us Apart’.
After a short break more people, myself included, headed forwards for an electric set. There was plenty of material to choose from as they have knocked out a remarkable five albums in as many years. The songs were however in a slightly samey style, melodic rock with a power pop edge with Jason’s voice not the only obvious comparison with Rick Springfield.
It had a much rawer edge than I expected, calling to mind the early 2000’s when the term nu-breed was banded about in melodic rock circles for a while, and ‘Fall To Pieces’ was even almost punky in delivery, but satisfyingly so. However I felt that the strength of their melodies and harmonies were not shown as clearly as in the acoustic set, which I think I preferred.
In one of his many between song intros, Jason mentioned how he and Steve had originally bonded over a shared love of the melodic rock scene that rarely reached Australia and how thrilled they had been to link up with Danger Danger’s Paul Laine, though it was a song from the Ted Poley era that they did cover in ‘I Still Think About You’. However among their originals, ‘Outside Looking In’, ‘Tonight’s The Night’ and ‘Bulletproof’ were notably impressive.
They left the best till nearly last with ‘Tell Me What You Want’, while like fellow countrymen White Widdow they have an eye for a neglected cult AOR classic, in their case ‘I Might Lie’ by Andy Taylor (yes, Durannie Andy Taylor), which saw Steve pulling some great foot on monitor poses as he was given more scope to let rip on guitar than their own punchy material where the solos are short.
There was no encore as such but another earlier song in the insanely catchy ‘World’s Crazy Now’ ended an hour and 20 minute electric set, after which they hung around to talk to anyone and everyone.
Though the level of chat divided opinion, notably amongst those new to the band, it was a fun evening with enough music to show that The Radio Sun can become firm favourites here, and I’d love to see them get the right touring breaks, particularly with a concise set on a high profile support slot.
Review and photos by Andy Nathan
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