I always have trouble cutting it down to just 10, and this year is no exception. Lots of good gigs, lots of good albums. Here's a grab bag of highlights (mostly gigs) from 2022 in no particular order.
Chad Morgan & The Johnnys, Link and Pin, Woy Woy, NSW in May I missed the previous NSW Chad gig with The Johnnys when I was Canberra-based for a bit, so I was keen to catch him this time. He was at the Mazza Bowlo on the Saturday when I was seeing Dave Hole (see below), so I caught the train to Woy Woy on the Sunday to put things right.
I went there to pay tribute to an under-recognised icon and the Sheik from Scrubby Creek was in fine form, both in voice and on the guitar. He was supposed to play for only 20 minutes, but went for the best part of an hour. Much laughter in the audience with the 89 year old (true) picking up more fans.
The Johnnys were in fine form too and the Link and Pin is a great venue.
Dave Hole, Bridge Hotel, Rozelle, NSW in May On the same weekend as Chad and speaking of old blokes still doing the business, Dave Hole tore up the Bridge. I first saw him in Melbourne in the ‘70s in Matt Taylor’s band. His playing is just as explosive now as it always has been. He’s 74 by the way.
We had seen Robben Ford the night before. He was great. He always is, but the Factory (which was the venue) needs to do something about the sound. Dave’s loud and raucous power blues the next night was just what the doctor ordered.
Glitoris, Oxford Art Factory Gallery Bar, Sydney, NSW November Canberra fem-punks Glitoris (it’s hard to call them punks when they’re such good players) put on a ripper of a politically and socially charged set of mostly new songs from their next album. Brave! Hopefully they’re in the main room next time. I hope to have them on show when the album comes out.
Raising Ravens in support were pretty damn good too and I’m looking forward to having Jess in the studio in the new year. Grindhouse, Mazza Bowlo, June Taking spiritual guidance from Peter Russell Clark and eating nothing but cheese for a week, Mick and the boys drove the Grindhouse SLR 5000 to the Bowlo for a night of Sex Punk Power! Great stuff and looking forward to more of same!
Jaguar Jonze, Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW, July I first met the incredible Deena Lynch back in 2015 and have watched her rise since. 2020 looked like it was to be her year but COVID had other ideas. Things lined up better in 2022 with the release of the debut Jaguar Jonze LP “Bunny Mode” (there had been a couple of excellent EPs previously).
Prior to this year, she and the band had only played in the Gallery Bar at OAF. This time, Jaguar Jonze put on a killer show launching “Bunny Mode”. As for the album: yep! Get it. It’s excellent.
Jesse Dayton, Mazza Bowlo, July First time the Beau-monster had been here and with a top notch rhythm section, put on a fantastic genre-hopping show. We reckon he was just testing the water here, and with any luck, he’ll be back again soon.
If you’ve never heard of him, pop his name into your preferred search engine. You’ll be gob smacked.
Spurs for Jesus and Dave Favours were excellent in support.
Mick Medew Firstly, “Love is Calling”, the debut album from Mick Medew and Ursula is quite frankly a ball-tearer. Everyone’s been raving about it (as they should) and I can’t add much to what’s already been said.
Secondly, Mick Medew and the Mesmerisers made the long trek from Brissie in November to mesmerise us at the Bowlo and they did just that. It seemed like ages since they last played here and they delivered another tight power pop show.
The On and Ons and Pocket Watch were terrific in support. On and Ons are always great and Pocket Watch are ones to watch.
Ron S. Peno and the Superstitions, Mazza Bowlo, November Jeeze, for a bloke who’s supposed to be taking it easy, Ron put on a killer show with his all-star band. I think they’ve done three albums now and it’s turning into tight unit for Ron to work with.
Gold star to MD Horne’s Last Stand for closing the night. Scattered Order, Katoomba, NSW November I had seen them with Melbourne’s Black Cab at the Red Rattler in 2015, and they reappeared on my radar in 2022, with their latest album “Where is the Windy Gun?”
The show in a small room in Bursill Lane in Katoomba was loud with lots of effects and very trippy visuals. Seriously good and I’m now a big fan.
(Note to self: talk to Andrew from Black Cab to get a double bill happening in Sydney.) Mitch Jones from Scattered Order was the studio guest on the December 23 show.
Thursday Evening Gunk, Mosh Pit It was back again on a different night and it was lots of fun. I was privileged enough to host two shows and I hope it comes back because I’m up for it!vThat’s it but there could be heaps more – there were lots of excellent albums released during the year.
Chris Virtue presents “Virtual Unreality” on 2RRR 88.5 FM on Fridays at 19:00 Sydney time.
Harry Howard Presents: Slight Pavilions – Harry Howard (Cranes Records)
If you'd made this LP, you'd be bloody proud. It's a triumph, as far as I'm concerned.
How to get your attention?
Remember those “Nuggets” compilations when they first came out, tipping what we knew of the 1960s upside our heads? How so many of those tracks had such a unique joy of life, such a moving intimacy?
“Slight Pavilions” sounds nothing like those “forgotten” independent records of the 1960s, but it certainly does have that joy of life, a profound intimacy, and more than a touch of the backyard rebel. It also echoes that strange late 1970s and early '80s period when so much experimentation was taking place... Technologically, the difference between then and now is profound and borderline unbelievable.
The cover features a topless Julian Medor on his back on what looks like a garage floor covered in oil, eating his necklace, mic in hand and eyes shut. Shades of Darby Crash, and Iggy Pop.
Which are pretty good introductory comparisons, though Long Hours don't sound much like Iggy (well, alright, maybe “A Ghost To You”), but perhaps a bit like The Germs. But that's where comparisons pretty much end.
"Oh look, Mummy. The weird man singing with that nasty band Smallpox Confidential is telling me his IQ."
It’s really stupid. I hardly saw any bands (Dapto Dogs and George Thorogood were stand-outs) and heard far too few new releases. Instead, here’s a list of my Top Ten Sleb Shitbags and what curse (with permanent effect) I would put on them.
Tom Cruise: Wake up every morning another two millimetres shorter.
Vladimir Putin: His brain to empty, grow a beak and webbed feet and go nekkid except for a foolish weskit.
Donald Trump: To wake up and always tell the complete truth.
Feeling Festive? Here’s a present for you in the shape of four songs from Joey Bedlam, leader of Melbourne band Dollsquad and better half of X frontman and solo artist in his own right, Steve Lucas.
Joey has assembled film clips for her tunes - all of them Shocking Blue covers - recorded with various bands outside of Dollsquad, including Perth's Chevelles. In the spirit of making somebody else’s Christmas a little brighter, she’s asking you to consider donating something to the Cancer Foundation.
Joey’s donation link is here and we’ll repeat it at the end of this story just to make it super easy, OK?
A tense moment at a Meanies band meeting: Wally Kempton-Meanie (right) comes to the realisation that it's his shout and he left his wallet in Spain.
Wally Kempton is a busy man. Fresh from a Meanies tour of Spain (more on that later) last month, Kempton hopped off the plane in Melbourne and into the van for various tour managing duties.
In the coming days he’ll be rehearsing with Ash Naylor and Matt Cotter in preparation for next week’s annual Even Christmas shows, then regrouping with The Meanies for a gig at Hotel Westwood with Super American Eagle and Rocket Science. Then there’s the raft of current, imminent and potential signings to his Cheersquad Records label and associated promotional and general label managerial activities. “I just can’t stop!” Wally laughs.
1. Do The Pop! Festival, October 2022 - Port Campbell, VIC. One of the best rock n roll experiences I’ve had since the glory days of the Big Day Out in early-to-mid-1990s. A good sized, easy going crowd, all (mostly) attending for two good reasons: beer and rock 'n' roll. An exceptional line-up featuring a range of established and up-and-coming bands. Big thanks to Mick Simpson of Grindhouse and friends for organising what will go down as one the great inaugural festival events. No question this is my Number One pick for 2022.
2. Howlin’ Threads EP "Of The Sea" (Meinshaft Records) It was great to self-release this 4 x track EP featuring contributions from a wicked array of Australian rock n roll legends, including Penny Ikinger (Wet Taxis) on vocals, Deniz Tek (Radio Birdman) and Kent Steedman (Celibate Rifles) on lead guitar, James McCann (Harpoon) on slide and harmonica, and Brent Williams (New Christs) on keys. I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity to work with all these amazing people. For those keen to own one, a few Deniz Tek autographed copies are available here.