Pretty much on top of their game

dick taylor ADLVic Conrad's band The First Third has a drummer who plays hard and owns the kit, a guitarist who knows how to dance in and out of a tune, a bass player who, like Vic, runs a record shop.

Vic himself sings, plays guitar and two keys. They're really damn good. Sixties structures sieved through to now. Apparently they'll have a new CD out soon.

But I'm here to see the Pretty Things.

As I left, the two original members and one of the more recent recruits were answering questions and signing merch, while the bassist and drummer were chatting at the exit with assorted fans. This is a band who are comfortable with their crowd. Because, to them, they're not that far removed.

Let's get rid of the "original members" thing. Like a lot of bands who came up through the R & B scene in the 1960s in England, not only was their lineup not always been stable, some of the band were linked to the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd and god knows who else.

Phil May, the vocalist (looks a bit like a movie star) and one of the band's songwriters, is one of the two members who've stayed the distance. The other is the incomparable guitarist Dick Taylor, picured right.

Thanks, you Pretty Things. It's been fabulous.

dick and phil marrickvile 2018Dick Taylor and Phil May of the Pretty Things. 

Lou Reed posed the question: "What becomes a legend most?" and it's a fair bet that playing a Wednesday night in Sydney at theFactory Theatre wasn't an answer uppermost in his thoughts. 

But that's the lot of the Pretty Things on this temperate Aussie evening. A fact of life for one of the original wave of British blues-rock bands and a band who were contemporaries of the Rolling Stones, briefly giving Mick and the boys their first bassist before they'd even settled on a name.

Los Chicos administer some post-grand final prescription medicine to Melbourne

los chicos toteLos Chicos at The Tote.

Schadenfreud is a German term that translates loosely to "watching Collingwood lose".

OK, maybe that’s too harsh: anti-Collingwood (that’s the Australian rules football team for those born above the Barassi Line in Australia, and any of the Bar’s overseas readers) sentiment is tied up with class-based bias, and a lingering resentment at the club’s rampant success back in the day. The modern Collingwood team is great to watch, and would have been a worth winner, had the battle-hardened Weagles not worn the Pies down.

The prospect of heading to The Tote, nestled in the edge of the old Collingwood flat, on a night of Magpie disappointment, was potentially worrying. In the end, the Pies fans were thin on the street, no doubt drowning sorrows in some other sporting bar.

Adelaide meets its Waterloo

the bravesRemember ABBA? No, you probably don't want to, but there are a lot of reasons why you should. And I'll come back to this. For now, just remember ABBA.

Now, I've been wanting to see The Braves (pictured right) for several years now, and every time I've been near Melbourne they've not been playing. Finally (after touring Europe), they've decided to "do" Adelaide.

Apparently there was mulled cider available, which no-one told me about until too late. And while I missed the first act completely, and gasbagged in another room while The Howling Fog were on: but they sounded good, and people whose opinion I trust enjoyed them, so I'll have to check them out. They're on Facebook.

Pretty Things take final Australian bow

pretty things oz 2018Iconic first wave British R&B and psychedelic cult heroes, The Pretty Things, will perform some of their final live performances in Australia in October.

The band has announced it will cease playing electric shows with a final hurrah in London on December 13, with special guests Special Guests David Gilmour, Van Morrison and Bill Nighy. Securign the Pretties for a run through Australia is a coup for promoter David Roy Williams. 

Local legends – and massive Pretty Things fans - including TumbleweedThe Sand Pebbles and The Living Eyes are onboard to help send them off.

The Pretty Things are waving goodbye. Be there to wave back....

Tickets are on sale from 10am (AEST) on Friday here.

Wednesday 3rd October - Sydney, FactoryTheatre
+ Tumbleweed + DJ Owen Penglis
Thursday 4th October - Brisbane, The Zoo
+ Golden Age of Ballooning
Saturday 6th October - Melbourne, Thornbury Theatre
+ Sand Pebbles + The Electric Guitars
Sunday 7th October - Melbourne, Caravan Club
+ The Breadmakers
Wednesday 10th October - Geelong, Barwon Club
+ The Living Eyes
Friday 12th October - Melbourne, The Tote
+ The Living Eyes + Banagun
Saturday 13th October - Adelaide, Fowlers Live
+ Somnium
Sunday 14th October - Perth, The Charles Hotel

Fickle Sydney shivers while the New Christs burn

dave and robDave Kettley and Rob Younger marshalling the New Christs at Marrickville Bowlo on Saturday night.. 

Sydney, you’re such a contrary beast with this live music thing. And you fucking know it. 

A year ago, this same bill of the New Christs and Melbourne’s James McCann and The New Vindictives pulled close to a full room at Marrickville Bowlo. This Saturday night, the place isn’t empty by any means but the head count is much lower.

Was it the cold weather? HTFU! It’s winter. Maybe a spot of fatigue with great rock and roll shows seemingly happening weekly? For sure, we’ve been spoilt. It was also the third New Christs appearance in these parts in as many months. if you were one of the waverers that stayed home, it really was your loss. 

Queen of Soul PP Arnold and her ace band give us all a lesson

PP6
A PP Arnold show is more than a “gig“, it really is a live performance music history of somebody who has had an extraordinary career as a vocalist since 1964.

Word of the amazing shows in Melbourne had reached Sydney and slowly but surely the room started to fill up (including a front seated section for some of her more mature age fans.)

Whoever assembled her backing band should be congratulated.Thy comprised three-quarters of You Am I who IMHFO don’t get nearly enough credit for being the great musicians they are (Andy Kent should be singled out for really nailing the bass parts), with James Black (the bloke from Rockwiz) and vocalist Talei Wolfgramm joining them.

He Gets Up Again

brian and the angelsBrian Henry Hooper being attended to by his angels, his nurses. Carbie Warbie photo.

Four weeks ago Brian Hooper lay in intensive care, surrounded by family and his closest friends. The tumour doctors had found on Hooper’s lung just before Christmas was preventing Hooper from breathing without medical and mechanical assistance. Specialists suggested the even Hooper’s short-term survival was in the realm of miracles.

It wasn’t the first time Brian Henry Hooper had been told to fear the worst. Just over 14 years ago Hooper was told by specialists he may never walk again, after the balcony he was standing on at a gathering in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula collapsed, sending Hooper crashing to the ground, his back mangled from the fall.

Over the next 12 months, Hooper pulled himself back from the edge of permanent paralysis. Hooper’s resilience and psychological strength astounded all around him. In late 2004 Hooper limped back on stage with the Beasts of Bourbon for a gig at the Greyhound Hotel. Towards the end of the set, his battered spine unable to withstand the trauma of standing any longer, Hooper lay on the ground. His bandmates, save for Tony Pola on drums, followed suit, three battle-hardened rockers lying prostrate on the stage in sympathy for their comrade-in-arms.

Folk me! Rustic America meets Melbourne

michaelhurley mono
In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s ascendency to the American presidency, political sociologists scratched their heads trying to explain the emergence of the Trump vote. While some fumbled for the convenient crutch of a conspiracy theory, others acknowledged that there had been, maybe only temporarily, a seismic shift in the American voting demographic.

For those outside of the comfort zone of institutional politics, economic security and politically correct discourse, Trump’s colourful rhetoric was a beacon of hope.

Michael Hurley is a product of the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early 1960's. Back in the day, the Village was a haven for earnest singer-songwriters whose blend of poetic lyrics and folk melodies laid the musico-cultural foundations for the more celebrated counter-cultural movement that peaked toward the end of the decade. Some, like Bob Dylan, mutated into pop cultural icon; others, like Hurley, remained on the fringes.