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.

See the Descendents and you will believe that biochemists can dance.

descendents adlAndreas Heuer photo

You heard about the body of a murdered man being found in Goodwood, South Australia?

After the gig, me, Ocky and Robert Stafford (of Meatbeaters fame) were perched at the back of the tram as it lurched and whined its way homeward. This is Adelaide, not Melbourne, and we can only afford one tram. So it whines.

Anyway, we’d got through the city and were on the last stop before the parklands when suddenly there were cop cars everywhere, zig-zagging before parking on the tram tracks. A crim ute appeared, and a rather scary-looking Alsatian as one cop ran up to the driver while others peered in at us with a worrying hopefulness.

A trip in the Delorean with The Flaming Hands

flaming hands factoryHalf of the Flaming Hands: Julie Mostyn, Warwick Gilbert and Jeff Sullivan. Drummer Baton Price is obscured.  Murray Bennett photo

In preparation for their upcoming support slot with the Sunnyboys at the Enmore Theatre, the band calling themselves "The Strangers" - aka The Flaming Hands - lined up a show at Marrickville's Factory Floor.

The Thursday night crowd gathering outside the venue contained many familiar faces of gig goers and musicians from what was loosely termed the "Detroit Scene" of the late '70s-early '80s from which The Flaming Hands emerged.

We're all Happy Men and Women

sluggo enmore lightsIn days to come, when rock and roll has finally been relegated to the cultural nursing home to be read its last rites. It'll be a nice room with dappled sun, shared with other old cogders like Jazz and Rolling Stone magazine.

People will reflect that some of its best times were in Sydney in the late 1970s and early ‘80s. They’ll also realise how good things were, and how easily they slipped away.

This wasn’t going to be one of those high faultin’ essays on the fragility of cultural scenes and the futility of trying to recapture them (because, you know, things can never be like they were.) About how you can’t put your arms around a memory. Telling you: Don’t Look Back. But a story "angle" can just happen.

Sometimes we try to bury nostalgia or pretend it’s not a valid thing. It’s so easy to hope you die before you get old when you’re in the full flourish of indestructible youth…and then you want to take it all back when you realise that the future's not so much uncertain and the end is increasingly near.

So let’s make the observation that if nostalgia isn’t so much the elephant in the room at the Enmore Theatre tonight then it’s taking up much of the available space in the foyer. And that's fine. More than ever, with so many people who were influential in rock and roll dropping off the twig. We all crap on about how bad 2016 was for that sort of thing but of course it's only going to get worse. 

Right: Sluggo from Flaming Hands under the Enmore lights. Shona Ross photo