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.”
Mark 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.
Andreas 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.
Half 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.
In 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
Murray Bennett photo
I set out this afternoon towards the Enmore Theatre with every intention of taking some notes, keeping a rundown of the songs, and trying to come up with the sort of review that some people actually get paid to write.
Unfortunately, this grand plan fell apart by the time I’d been at the Warren View Hotel for an hour and met 26 (yes, I counted them) people I knew and ended up in more shouts than it was feasible to manage. Coopers Red is a great beer but a lousy friend when you’re trying to make a plan come together.
By the time I got to Phoenix (or at least the Enmore) it was 7.15pm, the Shy Impostors had just come on stage, and I was carrying enough Red on board to ensure that an in-depth profound analysis of the gig was as unlikely as AC/DC inviting Dave Evans back into the fold. So you’ll have to put up with this instead.