Ghosts of the fallen honoured as The Beasts take shape

the beasts clip

The Beasts

Croxton Park Hotel, Thornbury, VIC

Saturday, February 23, 2019

I’m pretty sure Spencer Jones is the only member of the Beasts of Bourbon, past or present to have played the Croxton Park Hotel, back in ita heyday. That would have been in 1982, when Spencer was playing guitar in the psychedelic cabaret troupe North 2 Alaskans.

Back in those days The Croxton – ‘the Croc’, to its more familiar patrons – was a bastion of the suburban beer barn circuit. AC/DC played there back in the day, Rose Tattoo, The Angels, Chisel, all the Oz pub rock greats.

The Alaskans didn’t really fit in with the pub rock crowd, but they were as funny as a fit, and damn good musicians too. The Alaskans were, in hindsight at least, a link in the chain that led to the formation of the Beasts of Bourbon.

John Dowler brings the jangle that's hard to resist

john dowler live in melbJohn Dowler with his band The Vanity Project. David Laing photo. 

In his 1981 feature on Australian powerpop pioneer John Dowler in Roadrunner magazine, Melbourne rock writer Adrian Ryan commented on Dowler’s then-new band, the short lived Everybody’s So Glad. He said they played with a certain kind of soul, and a type of sound that hadn’t been heard in town since Paul Kelly & The Dots underwent a line-up change too many, and since the Saints were last here. It was the kind of sound that “had nothing to do with horn sections and screams, but rather with jangling guitars, a passionate beat, allusions to something half forgotten.”

I love that soul and those jangling guitars. Being Melbourne born, I heard a bit of at as I was getting into music. It’s not the jangle of some insipid jangle-pop band, it’s a hard jangle, which is where the Saints come in. Ryan was referring to the Saints that recorded such classic tracks as “Call It Mine”, “In The Mirror” and “Let’s Pretend”.

Brothers-in-arms, Chickenstones put on a pearler of a show on their home turf

chickenstones beah clubWhen you realise we came up to Sydney from Adelaide solely to see The Chickenstones you may deduce from this that I am a tad biased towards the band. However, if I were able, I would simply be at every gig they do, because, to my mind, they really are that good. 

However, one of the reasons I can't dash all over the country is the inevitable lack of money (donations are welcome), and another is that I work in a family-operated business, so I fit myself around what everyone else is doing. Mostly this means that there are things on interstate which I would love to see, but can't. 

Opening band Dias - pronounced Dee-az - have good songs and the young folk love them. I think they may also be currently in a bit of transition, as some of the songs showed a similarity of purpose, while some of their others seemed to be coming from some other place.

Guitar and vox, bass and drums; it's amazing how varied people can make such a traditional set-up. While comparisons are effectively fairly useless, my photographer was reminded of The Whitlams, a musician in the audience was thinking about The Strokes, and I was reminded a little of early Go-Betweens. Truth is, I'd characterise them as a richly shiny, slow-burning surf waltz.

They went down well with the very mixed crowd (old unionist surfers and their wives, and folks who may as well be their university-aged grandkids ... hell of a mixture). I don't know if I'd liked Dias if they'd still had their other guitarist - what interested me was that, as I say, I think they're still trying things out - which is always an excellent reason to see a band.

Trio of bands make it real in Radelaide


brando rising adelaideBrando Rising strut their stuff last weekend. Marina Valieva photo. 

Someone from interstate recently commented that it looks like Adelaide is the place to be right now.

No, it's not. And certainly not with another inexcusable electricity price hike on the cards this year - do our Fearless Leaders have any idea what damage this is doing to the economy? No? Perhaps those protesting schoolkids could do better. Certainly they found a better cabinet in Ikea, so they must have a better idea about things than the current crop of cockwombles. 

However, the bleary light of today reveals that, had I known about the other gig last night, I might have faced a difficult decision. Missing the Yard of Retard gig, with (among others) Fear and Loathing and the first appearance of Bomber Down (featuring, as YoR so eloquently put it, "Rob Szkolik, Adelaide’as gayest man") would have caused a grave personal "torn in two" moment, as I had put my grubby paw up to see Brando Rising at the Enigma months before the gig was booked. Instead, I see the results of the Yard's gig on Fartabout and, not for the first time nor, I suspect, the last, I rather wish I could clone myself so I could do several things at once.

Lincoln back to the '50s for a shaking good time

the lincolnsThe Lincolns. 

Okay, hands up, please. What are Croatians famous for being passionate about?

The Ustashi, says one. Well, once upon a time the Ustashi did arouse passions, but they seem thankfully forgotten. That's not the answer I was hoping for. Any one else?

Confusing civil conflict!

Hmmm. You're a cynical bunch. No, Croatia is renowned for being passionate about their football, or 'soccer' as we here in Australia call it. (The term "soccer" is a mangulation of "association football", BTW).

So, ho to the Croatian Sports Centre, home of the Adelaide Croatia Raiders Soccer Club, is at the end of a curving drive and situated between a Woolworths unload and reload depot and the Adelaide Superdrome, the headquarters for Cycling SA. 

Collaborators and friends give Brian Hooper's posthumous album a St KIlda welcome

brian hooper charlie marshallIt was the sort of rock’n’roll crowd you would have expected to find in St Kilda. Weathered old punks, redoubtable rock dogs, wandering spirits from a bygone era. Lots of black, some punk rock bling, a room full of fading memories of lost nights and wasted days.

And so much love. Love for rock’n’roll, and love for the late Brian Hooper, whose new album, "What Would I Know?" was being launched, with a cast of his loyal friends and rock’n’roll family.

The obligatory "I missed the opening act" apology: It’s a long hike across town by public transport, especially when there’s a connecting bike ride in there as well. The fact that my household was engrossed in a compelling episode of "Peaky Blinders" rendered it inappropriate for me to spirit out of the place in time to see Joel Silbersher and Charlie Owen revive their Tendrils project.

Serendipitously, but sadly, the last time Tendrils appeared on stage was at Brian’s fundraising gig. Everyone I spoke to said it was, as always, memorable. Hopefully next time Tendrils play it will be free from the spectre of tragedy.

They reign in Spain and now Adelaide says Yes to Senor No

senor no tourGod bless those wonderful creative people who say: "Screw this boring world, I'm gonna do what I want to do". Because, when all is said and done, we won't be here forever, and if what you fancy makes other people dance and leap about like they've got uncool illnesses, so much the better.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Everyone who claims to love rock'n'roll has their own idea of what rock'n'roll is.

And, it's a suspicion of mine that a hell of a lot of rock'n'roll bands exist because no-one is playing the kind of rock'n'roll they want to hear (this may have been one of Kim Salmon's reasons for re-emerging with another Scientists in 1982).

Last week we saw The Animals, sharp and bright as a new nail, rejoicing in the simple power and beauty of the r'n'b explosion, and the determination to stay stable in a troubled world. 

Thrills and spills with The Animals of 2018

john steel 2018Original and current Animals drummer John Steel.  Mandy Tzaras photo.

Can't take her anywhere. This writer's photographer pissed and moaned about the walk from the car to the venue in the usual female preposterous high heels, wibbling and wobbling all over the shop. That'll larn me, in future I'll drop her off outside before parking the car.

Anyway, Jello-On-Springs tipped most of her first glass of white all over me while we were chatting with a friend (I'm sure I deserved it) in The Gov's rather lovely Front Bar (they always have a band on there, so the locals and regulars have some live music if they're not interested in, say, Tweefolkies, The Smythes or Iggy and the Squeezevomits). 

Legendary Melbourne venue Bombay Rock comes alive again to the sound of punk rock

ferocious chode bombay rockFerocious Chode get down at Bombay Rock.

Hello I-94 bar users and abusers; it’s been a while but I'm very pleased to let all you Melbourne punters out there know that the wonderful Bombay Rock (on Sydney Road in Brunswick) is back up and running as a venue. 

The State of Victoria has championed the Australian underground music industry. Fuck, it is good to see Bombay Rock back. Run by Smash, the wonderful lady who also backs up playing bass and looking bad-arse with Ferocious Chode (more later), who has hand-picked all the venue’s acts. 

Then, there’s the most friendly crew of bar staff - shit, they make you want to drink just that few more - and for the prices, this old pensioner can certainly do that. So folks, I highly recommend this fine place. And Smash, you are awesome.