Live Review: Mini Mansions @ The Joiners, Southampton – 12/05/19

Currently touring in support of their forthcoming third album ‘Guy Walks Into A Bar…’, our favourite Californian band Mini Mansions finally returned to the South Coast on Sunday evening for their debut headline show in Southampton. Not a Southampton debut for all the band though. Upon entering The Joiners in the afternoon, frontman Michael Schuman realised he’d actually played the venue back in 2008 with previous band Jubilee. Sunday’s gig saw Mini Mansions supported, once again, by the duo Sons of Raphael who are touring with them across the country.

Opening the evening, London based, eccentric pair, Sons of Raphael took to the stage. The last time I saw Sons of Raphael supporting Mini Mansions in London last year I wasn’t at all impressed and thought their set went on forever. However, this time their live performance seemed a lot more polished and made much more sense. Well, as much as it could for the duo’s quirky, space-science themed tracks. Trusting machines better than humans, their tape deck (drum machine?) was back in full force as well.

What seemed like an age later, Mini Mansions finally took to the dimly lit Joiners stage opening with ‘This Bullet’, a high-energy track taken from their 2018 EP release ‘Works Every Time’. There were a few sound issues from the off with the vocals being horribly quiet in ‘Death Is A Girl’ and the first verse of ‘Vertigo’ was sung back to the band by the crowd. This didn’t mar the performance though and it sounded great otherwise.

Mini Mansions set was adequately laced with brand new tracks such as the already released singles ‘GummyBear’ and ‘Bad Things (That Make You Feel Good)’. Both of which I wasn’t too fond of before hearing them live but I’ve had them both on repeat since Sunday evening. The band also played a previously unheard track, ‘I’m In Love’ (unless you’d already seen the band on this tour, or Youtube’d them, obviously).

What may surprise some is that Mini Mansions now perform as a four-piece having currently got enlisted Queens of the Stone Age’s drummer John Theodore taking over percussion duties from fellow QOTSA member, Michael Schuman. While the dynamic has changed ever-so-slightly, everything seems a bit more polished now.

It was a suitably (no pun intended) sweaty gig for the band in sold-out, 200 capacity venue. As in that sweaty that I had Schuman’s sweat splatter down my face and camera when he came up to the front of the stage mid set-closer ‘Mirror Mountain’. I should probably say set-closers instead as ‘Honey I’m Home’ and ‘Mirror Mountain’ are pretty much one psych-rock track that shouldn’t be separated under any circumstances. Whatever raw energy is left from the bands set is poured directly into these final tracks and its the perfect end to the set.

Mini Mansions reaffirmed exactly why they are one of my favourite bands on the evening. The new tracks played are shaping up their forthcoming album to be a must-listen and if I could, I’d definitely see the band again on this tour. Although I’m not sure any of the other venues are quite as intimate as Joiners so it was certainly a gig not to be missed.

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