The Fall live in Sydney

the fall metro

There are very few bands that could get away as a warm-up for The Fall. The last Australian tour I saw, it was Dave Graney. That worked, as he has the chalk on the boards, credibility and of a similar vintage. He has cynicism but it comes from a different place. 

I missed tonight’s opening band.  I heard they were good.  The main support is Gold Class who assembled on stage with The Metro almost half-full.

The band is polite. They are pedestrian and they are safe. I am sure they have very good record collections.  Suppose the fault lies with promoters.  This band really would be ideal openers for Coldplay or New Order; certainly with the right audience they would excel. I would like to check them out again. I’m just not convinced about them at this stage.

BellRays live in Australia

bell rays rickIt’s late in Adelaide, I got work tomorrow, and I didn’t expect to be writing this. So why am I?

When you’ve seen a band who so effortlessly lifts your spirits, who convince you that you matter, and that they give a damn for the people they’ve come several thousand miles to entertain; when you see that band put out truckloads of energy, effervescence, fizz and smarts, fronted by one of those extraordinary showmen who make it all look so damn easy you want to form your own band … yeah, well, I owe them.

Who? 

The BellRays.

Never heard a song before tonight.

Mainstream entertainment world don’t know they exist. Across the road from The Gov is the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, lighting up the sky with a multicoloured display and one of those shifting electronic billboards advertising Neil Diamond, Elton John and Mrs Brown’s Boy and that Russell excrescence.

That’s where The BellRays should be playing. I once saw James Brown there. The BellRays may not be the same thing, but pound for pound they’re just as entertaining, and a damn sight more intimate and friendly.

 

Pic by Rick De Pizzol

Spencer P. Jones and The Escape Committee live in Adelaide

spencer adl2 
I missed the first band, but I’ve heard good things. I did catch The Pro Tools.

Led by the extraordinary Pete Howlett, ThePpro Tools hammer at you - they’re a lot of noisy, in-your-face fun; coupled with Howlett’s almost Dolls-esque behaviour.

“No-one flicks his hair with such elegant contempt as Johnny Thunders,” remarked fellow audience member Nazz Nassari tonight, in response to my observation that Howlett’s perfectly timed angry slash at his hair toward the end of their set expressed an eloquent contempt). I never saw Thunders, but Howlett has a sort of compressed loathing of his instrument, despite his dexterity and talent, as if somehow the instrument simply cannot do what Howlett wants it to. Therein lies part of the public persona/reality of the man.

Anne McCue live at Django Bar in Sydney

McCue jill stokesberryJill Stokesberry photo

If I was to choose a Sydney venue for the launch of Anne McCue’s remarkable album Blue Sky Thinking, it would be the Django Bar. 

I was aware of the venue upstairs, Camelot, as one of the better bars in Sydney’s inner-west for the last few years The Django bar is downstairs and it is everything Django. Django sculptures Django oil paintings, Django drawings - such a Django Rhineheart vibe.

I was so early for a gig (7.15pm) and already it is packed; I knew was a sell-out but this was so startling. Even at that time I was able find a seat way at the back of the venue with mid-‘70s Tom Waits footage on a large screen, blaring across the room. There seems to be big expectations for this show.

Girlschool live in Kansas City, USA

girlschool

It was with great interest to learn that Girlschool were doing a tour of the U.S.A. Evidently, they haven't toured the U.S.A. in over 20 years. When I discovered that they were playing a date in Kansas City, I decided to go.

Girlschool are touring with Crucified Barbara from Sweden. There were also two other acts as support.

Boris with Last Days of Kali and Crypt in Australia

boris blue

 

Well, Boris in Adelaide on Sunday night were brilliant. Who are they?

 

Boris have been around since 1992, put out their first CD ‘single’ in ‘96, and have released 23 more LPs of their own songs (including three this year, and two last year) and 12 collaborative LPs, not including three collections of rarities and live material. They’re not huge in their home country of Japan, or indeed anywhere else, really. But those who know them cannot get enough and are total addicts. 

 

I first heard them in 1996, when a mate, Paul, came back from Japan with “Absolutego”, put the bastard on and left it playing. After 45 minutes, and my third “Paul, which track is this..?” I got the same answer: “Oh, still the first one.” I demanded to see the disc. The song went for over an hour, and was (and is) fabulous. Lots of changes, altered states, tempo alterations…the lot. It’s like a long LP which keeps returning to its central theme which, not speaking Japanese, I have no idea of whatsoever. But you keep returning to it.

Do not adjust your TV set: Thirteenth Floor Elevators - live! - in Texas

Elevators live shot
Speak to Austin natives and not all will have heard of Roky Erickson – not your average man-in-the-street at any rate - but by having a few decent conversation with various Austin locals, commonalities begin to emerge. Everyone will have either seen a UFO first-hand or have a close friend or relative that has, including a 40-acre behemoth that buzzed the ranch of one, G.W.Bush, just a few years ago. 

Austinites love Beer, UFOs, Barbeques, Guns and…..MUSIC. Just as Sydney is the home of the world’s best Detroit music, Austin then, is the Global Capital of Psychedelia – thanks to seminal legends the Thirteenth Floor Elevators!

Enter Psych Fest, an ostensibly alternative/independent festival that debuted in 2008, and was reportedly instigated to some degree by local psychedelic outfit, the Black Angels.  Held over three days, it has since grown to accommodate even more local talent, as well as swelling to include many top-notch overseas acts. This year’s line-up reads like a who’s who of altered consciousness – Tame Impala, Jesus and Mary Chain and Primal Scream were three of the previous evenings’ acts.

Hugo Race plus The Battle of Flowers in Adelaide

hugo at the wheaty

Hugo Race makes a point

Adelaide's Wheatsheaf Hotel (aka the Wheaty) is one of those modernised, forgotten pubs with pricey but excellent wines and beers. Local families bring their kids and they run amuck.

There is a beer garden, but few people smoke (which I can’t understand). Coffee and hot chocolates are available at the bar. There are no pokies and no ATM (you withdraw at the bar). They have exhibitions of art, photography, hairdressing and whisky tasting.

The back room (where bands play) is essentially a newish tin shed with a ceiling, lights, formica tables and period chairs, and everyone squashes in somehow.

Leadfinger with Soberphobia, the C-Bombs, The Toss, Drunky Blunders and Ben Gel & the Boneyard Saints in Adelaide

leadfinger adelaide

As far as I was concerned, the night belonged to Leadfinger.

It ain’t often in this town that you wish you could attend three gigs at the same town. However, when I was young and malnourished, in the '70s to about 1983, there was sometimes one brilliant gig, and a handful of ‘hmm, may as well, nothing else is on’ gigs, and always about three or four parties every Friday and Saturday.

Adelaide parties of the very late '60s on were sometimes legendary… the ones which didn’t stop all weekend were rare but they happened from time to time. A band would come from interstate and play Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights, often at the same place, and I remember … uh, I may be about to digress.

The point is that in the actual '70s, you just would never have anything like this; two gigs showcasing 12 or so bands, all the bands good enough to dance to and fling beer over, some much better and some even better than that. So there. You can’t go back. But by fuck you should get out to more gigs. Sod the kids, bring ‘em along, put ‘em in a sound-proof booth like what Pete Townsend bounces around in and drip feed ‘em over the top.