Lincoln MacKinnon & The Wrecking Train Sparks Will Fly launch @ Mojos Bar

w/ Marmalade Mama, The Tender Hearts, Nika Mo, DJ Sweetman
Friday, May 24, 2019


The intimate musings of Nika Mo commenced this Friday evening at Mojos Bar. Standing fearlessly on stage, the two-piece chose gentle nurturings to caress a small group of punters into their circle of safety. That’s what it really felt like. Like you were safe and out of the wind. Through tracks such as Purple Suburbia and Beaufort before Birkett, a strong visual picture of a hometown pride rang true, with their setlist masterfully chosen to match the beginnings of a long evening, introducing the faithful to a thoughtfulness that would carry through the rest of the evening with lyrics like “your fridge is an image of hope.”

When The Tender Hearts climbed on stage, it was overwhelming. There were velvet dress coats and skinny jeans and shaggy hair and instruments. With all of the competing factors, you had to wonder how it was going to work. Previously known as The Hand Me Downs (we’d love to know what was wrong with that name, incidentally), their songs captured the loyalty of a crowd that desperately yearned for orchestral elements to groove to. At this stage, the front room was too full to move in, which worked for their overall set. Personally, I felt like there was too much going on. I like a united front, but with a mosaic of personalities, it was hard to gauge what they represented.

By this point of the evening, it felt like the room was filled with family. There was a strong community vibe in the extended spaces of the bar. The sweet murmurings of DJ Sweetman silhouetted that by coupling tracks like The Beatles on vinyl to the overall atmosphere. I watched the way the room breathed together and felt a little homesick by the thought of it.

When Marmalade Mama came on stage, I wanted to be nurtured. I felt like the crowd wanted the same by the way we all watched the stage so closely. It was an awkward start to their set with a feedback discrepancy, yet it didn’t take long until the true force of Marmalade Mama began to come out. Their crisp guitar choices were deliberate and concise, in the messy way only good rock and roll can achieve. I think I fell in love with the way they moved through their songs. From Chicka Chicka to Green Light, the times they most made their presence felt was when they were more vulnerable, which is a quality evident in their newer releases. The only point of critique I found was how their crowd engagement was short of their personality. I think they’re charming enough that a chat to the crowd would have sold them a room full of records. Yet, it was a tight, crisp set that I wanted to last a little longer, confirming my suspicions that this band has got a real shot.

Lincoln MacKinnon & The Wrecking Train
remind me of the intimate moments where a lover brushes your hair from your face. That’s how their music makes you feel. MacKinnon himself is reminiscent of Roald Dahl’s BFG, and like Roald Dahl, has the capacity to create story lines that provide an escape. As a Melbourne import to the Fremantle music scene, I was surprised by how well supported he was, yet as soon as he started to play it became very clear why he had won so many hearts. The whole set, I kept thinking about the last time I went home to New Zealand and how I stood underneath Whangarei Falls and let the water cascade down me. Its one of the places I feel most at home. It’s a feature of MacKinnon’s writing style to gift that to the audience. From I’m Bled to Holding On, the set amplified a kindness I’ve never seen captured before. With distressed outros to my new favourite bassist, there were odes to heartbreaks unhealed and gorgeous duets to captivate the audience completely.

The Sparks Will Fly album they were launching on this night is a gift, and they played every song from it. It is with a sense of pride we can say that Lincoln MacKinnon is officially one of us.


Photos by Annie Harvey

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