Veruca Salt

Veruca Salt: The Corner Hotel, Melbourne 30/9/14

Named after the gleefully obnoxious and selfish young lass from the classic Roald Dahl novel Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Chicago four piece Veruca Salt formed in 1993 and found instant success with their killer debut single “Seether” across the world. Formed by singer-guitarists Nina Gordon and Louise Post, the quartet found fame across the world, particularly in Australia.

Veruca Salt

A strong part of the appeal of Veruca Salt was their strong focus on the female in music. In what was a very male-dominated musical world, Gordon and Post , very much inspired by the likes of Kim and Kelley Deal from The Breeders, discovered a happy middle ground between the dreamy, otherworldly pop of acts like Mazzy Star or, on the other end of the scale, aggressive and confrontational female-led bands such as Bikini Kill and Babes In Toyland.

The story of Veruca Salt is a classic one that has repeated itself throughout the history of music. Namely, too much fame too soon. In their early twenties when fame hit, the quartet, after two albums and an EP, imploded in 1998.

Veruca Salt

Rediscovering an unbreakable bond, especially between Gordon and Post, and reforming in 2012, tonight we saw the original lineup of the band, also featuring drummer Jim Shapiro (Nina’s brother) and bassist Steve Lack. This is the first time that this lineup has toured Australia since 1996.

Ably supported by local trio Bloods, another female-centric jangly guitar pop band, Veruca Salt were not what one expected in the live setting. More visceral and punchy than they have sounded on their albums American Thighs, Eight Arms To Hold You (incidentally, a title The Beatles considered for the album that was eventually entitled Help!) and the brilliantly titled EP Blow It Out Your Ass, It’s Veruca Salt, this was a very impressive and immensely enjoyable display of a band rediscovering their musical mojo.

Veruca Salt

Arriving onstage to the sounds of the David Bowie track “Chant Of The Ever Circling Skeletal Family”, the quartet launched into the crunchy “One More Page Of Insincerity Please”. Tonight’s set list was a thorough and well -chosen cross-section of their recorded works from their heyday. The sold out crowd at The Corner Hotel absolutely lapped up the great music on offer. One doesn’t quite realise how strong a following Veruca Salt have in this country until they go to one of their sold out gigs and see a crowd en masse with big, gleeful smiles on their faces, singing along with every word to every song. That is a positive and strong quality that makes live music such a valuable and precious commodity.

Another striking aspect of tonight’s concert, the second of three that the band are playing at The Corner, was the mutual love shared by both the band and the crowd to each other. It was genuinely touching to hear Gordon and Post continually express their gratitude, thanks, respect and love for the crowd. In a day and age where too many artists take their audience for granted and look down their collective noses at them, this was an incredibly refreshing experience. The four piece also had an incredibly infectious level of energy and passion to them, something that totally translated to the crowd before them.

Song highlights included “It’s Holy”, “Stoneface”, “All Hail Me”, “Don’t Make Me Prove It” and storming versions of “Shimmer Like A Girl” and “The Museum Of Broken Relationships”. The biggest response from the audience was saved for the band’s best known track, the instant classic “Seether” and a song with attitude and style to burn, “Volcano Girls”.

The night finished off with a stunning version of “Earthcrosser”, extended and taken to great heights in the live setting.

Veruca Salt

This was an excellent night of female driven rock from a day an age past, but music that still has a strong sense of currency in the current sonic climate of the world. It is truly a joy to welcome Veruca Salt back into the world. Going on tonight’s performance, that long awaited third album from the band has the potential to be something special.

Veruca Salt
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