Snarski vs Snarski

Jason Kain (L), Rob Snarski (C) and Mark Snarski (R) at the Northcote Social Club. Picture: Daniella Casamento

Jason Kain (L), Rob Snarski (C) and Mark Snarski (R) at the Northcote Social Club. Picture: Daniella Casamento

Live gig review
Northcote Social Club
Sunday 8 September
Matinee show – two sets

IT could be argued that Australian indie-rock has its roots in the West Australian city of Perth from where bands that were born decades ago – The Triffids, Hoodoo Gurus’ Dave Faulkner, The Scientists’ Kim Salmon and You Am I’s Tim Rogers – crossed the continent to find fame in the eastern states.

This is the pedigree of Mark and younger brother Robert Snarski, who have been on the Australian music scene in various guises since forming Chad’s Tree in 1983. Their music careers took different paths in the late 1980’s with Mark forming The Jackson Code and more recentlyThe Nearly Brothers with luminaries from the Australian music scene, T.B. Allen, Martyn Casey, Mark Dawson (aka Bongo Fury) and Mick Harvey. Rob’s band, The Blackeyed Susans, play the occasional residency and one-off gigs at inner-city pubs. He is in the process of writing and recording songs for a new album with former Susans guitarist Dan Luscombe of The Drones.

Mark lives in Madrid, which makes for a rare Snarski Vs Snarski gig, when the brothers take it in turns to play their own songs and swap singing duties on each other’s songs. On-stager banter and brotherly jibes reveal Mark’s wicked sense of humour, often displayed at the expense of Rob who on this day, caused a false start on their trip into Northcote because he had forgotten to pack his guitar. He blamed this lapse on the shock of Collingwood’s elimination final loss the night before.

Mark kicked off the afternoon show dressed in a red polyester satin suit which inspired running jibes of ‘Lobsterman’ and ‘Mr Spock’ from Rob. Standing centre stage with electric guitar and microphone, the audience was transfixed as Mark and Rob alternately worked through several classic songs in solo mode and with the support of Jason Kain on acoustic and electric guitars.

Mark’s booming voice has lost none of its edge and he uses it to either attack a song with a driving beat or to softly caress a ballad. In the liner notes of the 2010 Chad’s Tree CD package Crossing Off The Miles, which includes both of the band’s late ’80s albums, Buckle In The Rail and Kerosene, author and academic Niall Lucy aptly describes Mark’s voice: “A human Marshall stack, Snarski could switch in the space of a few bars from a velvet baritone to a rock & roll screamer on a wavelength somewhere between Jerry Lee Lewis and Tom Waits.”

Rob Snarski performs at the Northcote Social Club.  Picture: Daniella Casamento

Rob Snarski performs at the Northcote Social Club.
Picture: Daniella Casamento

Younger brother Rob’s velvety vocal range has a dreamy depth of tone and is as rich and sweet as honey. He sang Joe’s Flame from Mark’s band The Jackson Code, and harmony to Mark’s rendition of Smokin’ Johnny Cash from The Blackeyed Susans 1997 album Spin the Bottle. Mark’s driving narrative and guitar riffs on Let’s Find A Box Dolores, a track off The Nearly Brothers 2010 album, was a highlight as was his version of Black Crow In A Loquat Tree from Rob and Luscombe’s 2002 album There is Nothing Here That Belongs to You.

The Snarski brothers’ vast back catalogue of songs has weathered the years well and this stripped-back performance gave the audience a chance to truly appreciate this multi-talented duo.

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