Emmy Etie photo
The Corner Hotel in Melbourne oozes rock, and the idea of being part of Radio Birdman, HITS and Penny Ikinger shows over two nights was worth the flight from Sydney to Rock Mecca.
I choose to be in Sydney for the Rowland S Howard tribute show Pop Crimes on the Saturday before so I missed Birdman’s Manning Bar gig.
Sitting at the airport, fuelling my thirst of adventure and drinking my Coopers while reading social media, I noticed that my Facebook feed was inflamed with reports on how well Birdman played the night before in Brisbane. Comment was made that it was so powerful and melodic.
From the spectacle of the Rolling Stones the previous night, I awaken somewhat seedy and blasted. It’s been a huge week, dealing with our Beasts of Bourbon documentary, taking note of Stoneswatch, seeing the Stones on a stage half a soccer pitch away and now… Rowland, who would have been 55 the previous day (AKA Stonesday here in Adelaide).
Ho to the Wheatsheaf Hotel on a borderline suffocating hot day, where Alison Lea’s photographs of young Rowland (the infamous late 1980 Adelaide tour, where scrawny Nick Cave painted a skull and tentacles on his chest, performed topless with the paint running to buggery and beyond.) If you’ve seen the cover of the Nick the Stripper 12”, that’s Alison’s photo. If you need more information go here.
There were two sets, the first being These Immortal Souls, and the second devoted to Rowland’s solo work. It wasn’t the line-up for the Melbourne shows; Hugo Race wasn’t there, nor was his sister Angela, nor Ed Kuepper.
I haven’t been so profoundly moved all year. Partly because, after interviewing him on many occasions and brought him down to Adelaide for a few gigs, I knew Rowland reasonably well. Which meant that seeing these songs being performed by his friends had me rather teary. It was painful to watch, confronting, nasty even; more poignantly, his words are now far more loaded…
Voula Williamson photo
For the last two weeks, Stones fever, ably abetted by the broadsheet newspaper, has hit Adelaide.
Not for everyone, of course, mostly fogeys. Of which I am one.
In the days running up to the gig, Stoneswatchers staked out their hotel, their rehearsal ‘room’ (disused Glenside Mental Hospital, not that there’s any shortage of clientele, just that funds are a bit short apparently).
Ripley Hood stands in for Mick Blood in the Lime Spiders. Steve Whelan photo
Ten bands. One bill. Despite being run (a.) in what is, these days, a notoriously taciturn live music town as Sydney and (b.) in direct competition with some obscure code of football’s grand final, it made sense.
Blood Bank was one of four benefit shows in as many cities to assist Lime Spiders vocalist Mick Blood, rendered unable to work after an altercation a few months ago in a pub in his newly adopted home town of Newcastle. Mick suffered a brain injury and is on the mend but it’s going to be slow progress on a long road.
I often put forward the argument about his Bobness that if any new artist produced a run of albums with the depth and quality of "Time Out Of Mind" in 1997 until "The Tempest" in 2013, we would hail them as a lyrical genius, the likes of which we'd not heard since Leonard Cohen.
We would be in wonder of this songwriter who draws Americano from his depth of styles, whether it be through darkened Southern blues, Western swing, folk ballads, rockabilly or Irish balladering.
We'd note the remarkable gravel in the vocals akin to Tom Waits and Shane Mc Gowan, and the way they descend to a whisper, the aural equivalent of the oldest oak tree, all weathered and timbered.
But it's Dylan. No singer/songwriter compares, and there is no other career like his.
Steven Danno photo
The thing with nostalgia is that it never gets old. Like sand through an hourglass, reunions of storied bands are an inevitability. Some are great, some barely tolerable.
The verdict is in on the return to duty by three versions of the Hoodoo Gurus, as a warm-up for an appearance at the Splendour In The Grass festival a few days later. This was a championship-style triumph rather than a chore.