When it comes to music choices, I know I’m totally biased. If an Aussie act is playing in a venue near me, there’s a 99.9% chance I’ll go see it. I guess that “occupational hazard” comes with the job.
Those shows are normally a hit-and-miss. But sometimes, they’re a worthwhile experience leading to new music discovery.
Fractures’ recent gig in London is definitely the latter one.
So here’s what happened.
I’m in London for a while again. And I was mindlessly scrolling through Songkick on a Tuesday arvo, looking for (preferably music-related) events to attend.
To be honest, there was not much happening (school nights in the summer, it turns out, even in London, aren’t the most popular times to go out). But one artist’s name rang a bell. So I fired up my go-to streaming service and checked out a few of his tunes.
It’s beyond me to comprehend how I never came across Fractures at one of the many shows I went to when I lived in Melbourne, where the artist is also based. But the truth is I didn’t really know the music at all. All the more reasons to check out the act.
Fractures is the stage moniker of singer/songwriter and producer Mark Zito. After listening to some songs, I was amused to find out that he was classified as a rock or even metal (???) artist on one platform selling tix for the gig.
While indie is always a good denomination for a musician who blends different genres, electronic- and synth-based describe Fractures’ sound much better. At least at this stage of his career.
The artist made a name for himself nearly ten years ago when his song “Twisted” got significant traction. Since then, Fractures has toured with Amy Shark, performed at Splendour in The Grass (a happier edition than this year’s one) and supported Holy Holy, for instance.
Until recently, the artist played with a band on stage as well. The gig at The Social was, apparently, only the second one with just him and a simple keyboard/laptop/mic set-up (Fractures is also a multi-instrumentalist). “Apologies for the rustiness, but I feel like I’m doing alright”, he stated after song no.2, which the audience agreed with.
That transition to a one-man orchestra happened recently, in COVID’s aftermath. So you could tell that in some parts, especially the long, fading outros, he was still unsure what to do with himself. But that didn’t compromise the quality of the 1-hour show at all.
When Fractures walked on stage, he dived in without unnecessary introductions. In the beginning, it felt like the typical “British reserve” would reign during the gig. But the muso invited people to come a little closer to the stage, saying “Otherwise, I feel like I’m rehearsing in a hotel”.
The set was a mix of tunes from different stages of his career. There were songs from before the muso’s near-fatal broken neck accident that imposed an unplanned “time off” music and other things on him. He played some from the “after-the-accident”, comeback phase as well. Lastly, he shared new tunes created in the last couple of years.
We heard the “golden oldies”, such as “Cadence”, written nine years ago “when I was a young-er man and wanted to write a sexy song, but I still like it today”. A newer song, “Paradise”, evoked a summery vibe, on the other hand.
At one point, the artist dedicated one of the older tracks, a beautiful “Fall Harder” that talks about taking someone for granted, to his aunt, who, sadly, passed away recently.
Fractures presented a bunch of new material from a yet unreleased EP. He expressed the hope that the record would drop soon. “[I’m] just waiting for the press shots, new image, haircut… all that stuff, you know”, he joked.
Most of those new songs were, naturally, written during the now legendary (for all the wrong reasons, though) Melbourne lockdowns. The tracks’ titles themselves, like “Connect” or “Do Nothing”, directly reflect what was on people’s minds in the Victorian capital in those challenging times, I’m sure.
The artist also briefly touched on the music industry topic. He reminisced about “Twisted”, the track that opened the door to a professional music career for him. He performed it in a slightly remixed version at The Social.
On the other hand, he also sang a new track called “Again” that is about the post-COVID blues, and “how the music biz is not always what it seems“.
Despite the simple set-up, the muso sounded great (kudos to the sound guy). Although his tracks seem fairly simple, there’s so much depth and spaciousness to them. They’re also quite melancholic, even the up-tempo ones, creating a genuine, intimate connection between the artist and the audience.
“I don’t have an encore. So let’s pretend I walked off the stage and came back”, declared the muso towards the end. And he finished the gig with a new, unreleased track, which has “a pick-me-up melody but depressing lyrics”.
The show was Fractures’ first in London after quite a few years. He was, once again, invited to perform at the cosy little club in the centre of London that is The Social by the independent label/publisher/promoter Communion.
The venue’s quirkiness attracted quite a diverse crowd. However, it wasn’t necessarily an easy one. The fact that it was a Tuesday night didn’t play to the artist’s advantage, either.
Fractures’ tunes are pretty danceable (with a few exceptions), but I didn’t see too many people moving their hips. Instead, everyone seemed pretty enchanted with the music, cracking an occasional joke to cheer the artist on, matching his witty sense of humour.
It turns out the muso is a good entertainer, too, with a handful of funny stories from his personal life and creative adventures that he eagerly shares with the public. So he also gets credit for good banter.
Speaking of which, before the last song, he acknowledged the venue and promoter, and sincerely thanked the spectators for showing up. “I really didn’t know if anyone would be coming”, he said sincerely.
I’m stoked I made it to Fractures’ show on a Tuesday night. But, hopefully, the next time I’ll see the artist perform, it’ll be in an outdoor festival setting, on a weekend, and with a much bigger crowd ready for a little boogie.
The Social, London
Tuesday, 26 July, 2022, 9 PM
12 songs, approx. 1 hour
Check out Fractures’ last EP here:
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