Newtown is deserted. Cafes and restaurants that would normally be packed are empty. The PM has banned all gatherings of more than 500 people because of the coronavirus and this has devastated Sydney's nightlife. This city's music scene might never recover from the impact of Covid-19 and the controversial lockout laws.
I feel quite conflicted. Although I know that social isolation is the way to beat this bug, tonight's venue, the Vanguard is tiny and this is probably the last gig that I will see until the pandemic has run its course. I delay leaving home until the last minute and I enter the venue as Dyson Stringer Cloher walk on stage. I am immediately struck by how the bright suits that the band wear resemble hazmat suits.
The three women are playing on their own tonight, there is no drummer, like when I saw them at the Landsdowne a few months ago. With Stringer covering bass, Cloher on rhythm guitar and Dyson on lead, the band is dickless tonight.
Cloher talks about her song, Falling Clouds-how she and a few friends borrowed her parents' old Volvo and went to a Clouds concert-which was a defining moment for her. Struck by how loud the guitars being played by Jodi Phillis and Trish Young were, Cloher had a epiphany just before knocking herself out by hitting her head on a speaker. She realised that, like Phillis and Young, she too could play in a band and the rest as they say, is history.
The new album has a laidback, west coast feel to it characterised by three-part harmonies and these are on display tonight, especially in the goosebump-inducing Can't take Back. For a moment I close my eyes and I swear I can hear Christine McVie-the song wouldn't have been out of place on Tusk.
But this band is not just about harmonies and in Believer, the band rocks out hard, true to the spirit of Jodie and Trish. All too soon, it is over and a summer music season that for me kicked off with a Nick Cave and Warren Ellis concert during the apocalyptic bushfires, is ending tonight, truncated by a global pandemic.
The women joke about auctioning off their boiler suits, perhaps in these days of social isolation and growing anxiety about infection, they might just be onto a new fashion trend?