The Jezabels at Brighton Music Hall

Matthew Shelter on July 15, 2014

The Jezabels

Brighton Music Hall

Boston, MA

June 17

From the opening song of The Jezabels show at the intimate Brighton Music Hall in Boston, the thought comes to mind that this is the second-coming of the Pretenders. The sound isn’t precisely the same but the swagger is – and it doesn’t hurt that lead singer Hayley Mary, with her long dark bangs and black leather jacket, bears more than a passing resemblance to Chrissie Hynde in her New Wave prime.

The Jezabels have been around for more than half a dozen years, scoring multiple hits and major success in their native Australia. But they have yet to generate a strong following in the U.S., which is a shame. Their most recent album, The Brink, is solid from start to finish, 10 tracks of indie pop that draw comparisons to contemporaries like Florence + The Machine, Tegan and Sara, and Gotye. But it is around their live shows – full of passion and energy – that much of their reputation has been built.

On stage, the 26-year-old Mary is clearly the center of attention, but it’s not a one-woman show. What James Honeyman-Scott and Martin Chambers did for the Pretenders, guitarist Samuel Lockwood, drummer Nik Kaloper and keyboardist Heather Shannon do for The Jezabels: provide a galloping musical foundation on which Mary’s searching, soaring vocals can ride.

And soar they do. Many of the songs they performed at the Boston show had an anthemic quality, not unlike Florence + The Machine or even U2. They opened the show with the title track from The Brink, and two other pairs of songs from the new album were highlights of their 80-minute set: “Time to Dance” and “Look of Love” early in the show, and then later “No Country” and “The End.” Other standouts included “Endless Summer,” “Long Highway” and a set-closing “Catch Me,” all tracks off the band’s first full-length studio release, 2012’s Prisoner.

It was a treat to see a band this accomplished at a club the size of the Brighton Music Hall, which holds just under 500 patrons. In Australia and elsewhere they typically play larger halls. The Jezabels will be on the festival circuit in Europe for much of the summer, but American fans of indie pop should give them a look if they return to these shores later in the year.