Cherie bombs as Sydney stays home

cherie bombGrowing up in Sydney in the ‘80s,  we were spoiled. The amorphous thing called Pub Rock spawned an explosion of live music and it was literally everywhere. The one thing all those bands had in common is still hard to put your finger on but you could term it The Pub Contract.

From the audience side, the Contract read like this: “Don’t give us any airs and graces. If you aren’t any good, we’re going to put shit on you. Due to us consuming social lubricants in prodigious proportions, you need to play hard to get our attention.”

Those days are gone and only a few people care anymore. The ones who might be keen are buried deep under mortgages, families and adulthood.

Maybe it was the lack of a crowd, skewed expectations or the fact that The Runaways were never mandated high rotation listening in my own world, but Friday night’s Cherie Currie show at the Manning Bar in Sydney fell flatter than a soufflé in a bricklayers’ pie oven.

It wasn’t entirely the fault of the headliner.

The Runaways’ place in history is notable if slightly perverse. On one hand, as an all-girl band in a man’s world, they provided inspiration for a later generation of Riot Grrrls and (Punk Rock) Sisters Doing It For Themselves. On the other hand, they were shamelessly objectified, used and abused and have become a cautionary object lesson in exploitation.

My Adelaide weekend beats your year

system addictsThe Systemaddicts in full flight. Mandy Tzaras photo

Right now, Adelaide might not be the centre of the musical universe, but that's not for want of talent, effort and sheer fuck-offed-ness. Last weekend proves it.

First, Friday night at The Grace Emily Hotel. It's probably wrong to describe Subtract-S as Tomway Army's band, but he's definitely the leader, and the star. In fact, at the Grace Emily in Adelaide tonight, the air positively stinks of stardom, the kind of stardom which winks at you, lures you in like a jam rolypoly to Billy Bunter, then rams a fist into your blubbery belly.

If you've not caught Subtract-S, you must. In the audience tonight was a gentleman who'd come all the way from Hamburg just to see Adelaide bands. And he loved it.

A night to remember as mates rally in Melbourne for Spencer P Jones

spencer poster smSpencer P Jones is a legend of the Australian music scene.

Spencer P Jones is a damn fine axeman. 

Spencer P Jones is loved by all the countless bandmates, scattered across the globe.

Spencer P Jones is a mighty fine songwriter. 

Spencer P Jones is loved by all his mates, full stop.

Spencer P Jones is also really unwell.

That's why his mates have gotten together in Melbourne to help him. 

Kim Salmon live in Adelaide

 

For many years now I’ve been damn glad I don’t live in Melbourne. There’s more quality musicians there per square metre than almost anywhere you can name. The worst of it is, see, I don’t like to go see a brilliant band just the once. No, that’s not how you’re called to music.

Here in Adelaide, I would relentlessly follow - and record - my favourite local bands. The Lizard Train, Bloodloss, I couldn’t get enough of. There were others I liked, but not like this. If I lived in Melbourne, I’d have to have myself cloned.

Kim Salmon, expat Perthian (we think they’ve stopped worshipping Baal, we know they no longer eat their young at Easter but the inbreeding remains a problem) and one of a handful of musicians with the strongest and most extraordinary creative imperative in the country, plays here tonight with a pickup band (the only way the gig would work).

Stiff Little Fingers live in Australia

jake burnsDuring these past few weeks there has been a stream of classic 1977 UK punks band bands floating through, or announced to play in, Sin City, aka Sydney.  Names like Buzzcocks and The Stranglers have been something of a call-to-arms. And now a band that has less of a profile locally, Stiff Little Fingers, is playing.

Stiff Little Fingers emerged out of Belfast in 1977 as a bunch of teenagers playing in a punk band in a city with its soul ripped apart. It was a hard place but one that still had heart. Anyone who looks at news footage at the time knows Belfast was a warzone.

I remember a great uncle telling me first-hand stories of how brutal the city really was. Daily body searches by the English soldiers, ruthless gangs that murdered you for your religion and children that were bashed within an inch of their lives after school for walking down the wrong street.  Entrenched generational anger and hatred ran deep on both sides.

Don't cry for me, Argentina: King of Cool delivers a KISS-off

ed lost2Bob Dylan once said: “I should have never been successful: I was a fluke” In other words: Music that I write and perform, historically speaking, has never had mass appeal, he explained.

I have to agree with that; art that is intelligent, at times challenging and thoughtful does not generally have mass appeal (with a few exceptions.) KISS, One Direction and The Eagles have all sold mega tonnes of albums. delivered in massive crates (along with packs of Cornflakes) to mega stores, and still play sold-out arenas.

Meanwhile, artists like Ed Kuepper are down the road performing in small clubs, releasing music on their own labels and playing in intimate settings to refined music geeks and fans who like to think about their music.

It was tiny clubs where you could go to see Coltrane, Mingus or, on another level, Dave Van Ronk. It is perfect that we can see Ed in these venues.

The Camelot Lounge is quite a special place. It is a decent live venue in Sydney. So much care and thought has placed into this venue, which also includes the downstairs Django Bar.

It’s like a well-manicured museum - right down to the camel obsession and the food announcements that mimic RSL clubland bingo calls.

“No 67 your pizza ready and that rhymes with heaven” is quaint, and annoying at the same time: that said the booze is a good price. Places like this are truly a godsend.

The Buzzcocks live in Australia

buzzocock adlNick Spaulding photo

Everyone, it seems, has seen The Buzzcocks. Usually many times. Why?

The old songs always bring a smile or a rueful thrash as we contemplate our ghastly mistakes in love, and our splattergun rage at … the way things are. Dammit.

The Mummies go Down Under

mummies side3


The Mummies in full flight. Shona Ross photo

The Mummies in Australia? No fucking way! Hard to believe, but true. A hit-and-run visit spanning three states in less than a week (with a stop-off in New Zealand on the way home) admittedly but a tour, nonetheless.

The Mummies were The Shit in garage rock in the late 1980s. Conceived as the ultimate anti-band by Trent Ruane (organ, vocals), Maz Kattuah (bass), Larry Winther (guitar) and Russell Quan (drums), they were a lynchpin of San Francisco’s lo-fi scene. Emerging from their tomb sporadically in the ‘90s and ‘00s, they’re renowned for being the band that gave the then very hip SubPop label the finger when refusal to sign was a death-wish. They have made no-frills Budget Rock an art-form.