Humour and genial brilliance - that's The Undertones

the undertones live

This is a bit of a rant, I’m afraid. 

Opening support band to The Undertones in Adelaide, The Green Circles ,were good - but as I was preoccupied rescuing my keys from inside my car with the help of the RAA, I only saw the last half of their set. They seemed a little awkward tonight. The Green Circles are well and truly superb, however, and if this was a slightly off night for them, I’d better see them again to make up for it. Find them on Facebook and get their cds.

Next support, The Systemaddicts, are on Off the Hip in Melbourne, and they are one exciting, involving, often very amusing band. You don’t really know what you’re missing unless you’ve seen them. Fucking brilliant.

No nostalgia, just blues and Animal magic

john steel adelaideAnimals co-founder John Steel.    Mandy Tzaras photo

Remember the screaming '60s? If not, you’ve seen the footage, in particular of the Beatles in "A Hard Days’ Night", of hordes of howling fans hurtling after their fantastic idols … when the object of pursuit becomes less than human, almost a fetishistic object.

Those days are gone, thank god. The other influential band which everyone remembers is the Rolling Stones, long regarded as the great survivors of the Sixties. Until their last LP of blues covers, their LPs were not selling well. One of the reasons I think their last LP sold so well is, I think, the intimacy implicit in the release. That, and the knowledge that the Stones are rediscovering their roots again.

Truth to tell, if you pull the original versions of the songs the Stones covered … you’d probably enjoy the originals just as much, if not better.

Back in Byron with Tamam Shud - four decades later

shud byron2Tamam Shud back on stage at Byron Bay's Great Northgern Hotel.   Al Heeney photo

The Northern New South Wales Australian coastline has changed dramatically over the last 50 years.

Remember the pilgrimage of holiday time, with caravans lined up on the Pacific Highway…the tribe of kids in the backseat of the Kingwood (or Ford Falcons) bellowing out of boredom on the inteminable drive north? Then there was the weekend pilgrimage of surfers with their Sandman panel vans. Followed, of course, by the night drive back to work to Monday. It was a long trip back down to Sydney with car headlights on high beam, dodging speeding semi-trailers with speed-driven truckies, in-between stopovers at the Oak Milk Bar or the Big Banana.

Dotted along the NSW coast, from Hornsby to the Gold Coast, are memories. Of stop-overs at Frangipani-lined caravan parks, or pitstops at the homes of relatives. Memories marked by places like Foster, Nambucca Heads, Coffs and Byron. Sleepy little towns that were bursting at the seams on long weekends and Chrissie holidays.

Sydney just another step in Patti's spiritual, rock and roll journey

patti horses slSteve Lorkin photo

More than a decade ago, I was sitting in a Sydney pub with a beer after a Bob Dylan concert. I was amidst Dylan fans, including Jenny Kee, the ’60s fashion icon, “OZ” magazine figure and Buddhist. Jenny is a deep thinker and was peeling back layers on the Dylan show we had both witnessed. She turned to me in mid-conversation and asked a question I won’t forget.


“Do you think Dylan is deeply spiritual and has soul consciousness on stage?”

My answer after much thought was: “I can’t answer that, as I believe Bob lived many lifetimes and always felt he was guarded on that level, except in his born-again phase. That said, his songs are from the heart and mostly from his mind.” 

Jenny responded. “I saw Lou Reed last year. I believe he does, as he is on that journey.”

“I can’t say that about Bob or even Lou Reed. But after seeing Patti Smith live, I believe she does and that it comes from a very deep realm, in fact one could call it soul consciousness.”  

That was my answer all those years ago that night in Haymarket. I've always believed Patti is indeed a special performer.

Debbie and Patti in a Tale of Two Dieties

blondie dean ertlBlondie and her session men plus Clem Burke (obscured).   Dean Ertl photo

I come at this review as a fan.  Since 1976 (earlier if you count the Dolls and the Velvets), I have been enamoured of that New York New Wave sound.  It's a broad church.  Suicide could thrash synthesizers and Television could probe the stratosphere with spiralling lead guitar lines.  The Ramones could make dumb look smart.

The Talking Heads sounded nothing like the Heartbreakers.  The Fast sounded nothing link Mink DeVille.  But the scene was still recognisable as a whole.

Blondie lived in the spotlight of eternal summer despite spending a lifetime dodging sun rays.   You could be walking through the Lower East Side, see a boy you liked and say hello.  Even if you found yourself charged with solicitation, everything would be all right because you are young, beautiful and in love.

The night Rickie-Lee was one of us

rickie

Heads up: Rickie Lee Jones was magnificent. As well as being a great gig, it was quite a strange evening.

So, ho! Once more to the magnificent Governor Hindmarsh Hotel (aka The Gov), to which I have been arriving in all sorts of moods to see all sorts of bands since I think 1979. No Fixed Address (many times), Drum Poetry (once), The Birthday Party (the last of three memorable nights in Adelaide). And so on.

Actually, because the Gov is such a great venue, if you are coming to Adelaide, it is one of a handful of ‘I gotta go there’ venues. Thankfully it’s not a toilet like CBGBs or the 100 Club used to be: the Tonkin family have long-since revamped and reworked the place into a rather wonderful, cosy, recreational area for grown-up. The food is always good, bar or restaurant, the staff always fit into their team (I’ve never encountered a shit or indifferent staff member) and the place seems comfy and perfect even on Adelaide’s famous disgustingly hot days.

Celibate Rifles put rumours to bed and make a claim for greatness

damien narrabeenDamien Lovelock leads the Celibate Rifles.    Shona Ross photo

It was a big week for rumours - and that’s not a reference to that awful Fleetwood Mac album being on high rotation.

Celibate Rifles were playing two successive nights in Sydney. A Friday at the near dormant ‘80s venue Carmens at Miranda in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire, and a Saturday at one of their local stomping grounds, Narrabeen RSL.

It was about a fortnight before that the gossip started to fly.

No Fool's Gold to be seen as Datura4 debuts in Sydney

datura4 factory floor

The term “jam band” first flashed across my radar in a small bar in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the early ‘00s. It was in a pub called The Eight Ball, underneath the much more famous Blind Pig. I was lucky enough to be sharing a drink with Scott Morgan. (Ooops. I dropped a name.)

“Who’s playing upstairs tonight?”

“Some jam band.”

“A what…?”

Say goodbye? Hunnas have still got it

mark seymourMark Seymour of Hunters and Collectors.   Mandy Tzaras photo

Hunters and Collectors at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide? Dunno about you but we started the year behind and so far we’re still behind. So we didn’t think we’d be able to go to this, and planned accordingly to see Fear and Loathing at the Metro instead.

It’s a nightmare place to navigate, is Adelaide. Circling the city are roadworks (which take four times longer to do than in Syd or Melb) and go-slower signs everywhere which result in funding for local government. This week’s big car race this week has caused 40 percent of the public transport and cars to divert, thus clogging up the rest of the roads; Festival and Fringe are cluttering up the place with doofus tourists in daggy clothing and "duh" expressions...

I know people who only visit the city between April and November because they can't stand it and are fed up with struggling through the traffic. A lot of "normal" businesses lose money because of it. And all, one suspects, to sell alcohol.