animals gov williams hadleyBarney "Boogie" Williams on keys and Danny Hadley on guitar and vocals.

The Animals and Friends
The Gov, Adelaide
May 28 2024

Expectations are a bugger of a thing.

We don't know we have them until we find ourselves hung-up by our own preconceived ideas.

Take Chain. The blues band. They're gritty, muscular, and utterly themselves. 

Yes, I've been watching a few recent live things on YouTube, prompted by a Melbourne chum who went to see them a week or so ago. He was blown away.

Back when I was coming up, Chain didn't sound that interesting. I didn't much like the blues initially (particularly not the white man blues, I discovered) but found myself shifting as I discovered Bessie Smith, Robert Johnson and - thanks to another chum (this time an ex-pat Devonian in London) early John Lee Hooker

Yes, feel free to snarl, “took you long enough”. No, it took me way too long, I'm aware of that. In my rather feeble defense, I only have so many hours in what turned out to be rather busy days.

So, I'll have to find Chain's albums, won't I? And, if they come down to Adelaide, I'll have to go see them. 

As, for example, I've seen Buzzcocks about a dozen times here in Australia. With Pete gone, that shy little bloke with the heart-breakingly vulnerable voice, I'm not sure I want to see the band without him. Nothing against the drummer and bass player, because by god those blokes are good. And Diggle is a great fun guitarist, skronk strings at the ready.

See what I mean? I've made my mind up without seeing them. Pretty silly, really.

And I nearly did the same nearly a decade ago when my housemate suggested we go to see The Animals who were touring the country. My first reaction was, 'Naaah' ... Partly this was because although I liked Burdon's voice, I wasn't that excited about his solo work (I don't much like Van Morrison either). However, after a bit of insistence I looked up The (Burdon-less) Animals to discover they were playing good solid sets with Mickey Gallagher on keys.

animals gov norm helmBassist Norm Helm.

So we duly went along and I had a blast. Well-chosen set, incredible crowd-engagement and heartfelt emotion from the band and the crowd. Singer Danny Handley's personality is so personable you're with him from the beginning. There's plenty of room for a little improvisation without ruining the song. It's a huge thing these men provoke. 

Sure, this ain't 1964. Which is a damn fine thing. People move on. The Animals always had a fairly fluid line-up. The sound of the band altered as a result. Sometimes not so good, other times brilliant. The current line-up: Norm Helm, bass; Barney "Boogie" Williams, piano and organ; Danny Handley, guitar and lead vox; and John Steel, drums.

Since then, with one exception, we've seen every tour here. If I'd won the lotto the other week we'd have been traipsing about the country, following them. Are they that good? I don't know. I think so. It's just a magnificent thing to see rock'n'roll (or, the blues, or r'n'b or...) performed and presented so well. 

Expectations, eh?

So Jethro Heller and I went down a bit early to The Gov - still my favourite live venue in Adelaide, by the by - to catch John in an interview for Jethro's TV show, "Tales of a City". 

animals gov john steelOriginal Animnals drummer John Steel receives honorary Adelaide citizenship from Jethro Heller.

The gig itself was bloody good. I won't tell you the songs they do, much of it will be familiar to you; all you need to know is that they do many of the songs the Animals have always done. And that, at 83, John Steel is one precise, powerful drummer. 

I mean, 83. And a drummer. 30 gigs, two sets per gig, in six weeks. 

Barney Williams is an equally precise, careful player, and no stranger to packed houses; if you're not familiar with him, he's got a great track record - member of the Milltown Brothers (they came to fame in the 1990s and still record and tour); and recently toured UK doing Jerry Lee Lewis covers. 

Norm Helm is one of those fantastic musicians who can play anything damn well, but you've not heard of him because he's not been here before. Again, another track record. 

Danny Handley is a bloody marvel. Bags of swagger, talent and a voice you want to hear more of. 

Should I tell you the songs they play? No. Don't you look it up either. Turn up don't expect anything.

The Animals
The Final Encore Australian Tour
2 - Burnie Arts Centre / Town Hall
6 – Princess Theatre, Brisbane *Sold Out!*
7 – Twin Towns, Tweed Heads
8 - Dag Pub & Motel, D'Aguilar
9 - The Events Centre. Caloundra
12 - Pavilion Performing Arts Centre, Sutherland< SW
14 – The Concourse, Chatswood
15 - Anita's Theatre, Thirroul
16 - Blue Mountains Theatre, Springwood
19 – The Art House, Wyong
20 – The Juniors, Kingsford
22 – The Cube, Campbelltown
25 - Performing Arts Centre, Mandurah, WA
26 – Perth Astor Theatre, WA
28 - West Gippsland Arts Centre, Warragul, VIC
29 – Ulumbarra Theatre, Bendigo, VIC
30 – Frankston Arts Centre
2 – The Palms at Crown, Melbourne
3 - Bunjil Plac, Narre Warren VIC
5 - Lighthouse Theatre, Warrnambool
6 - Wendouree Centre For Performing Arts, Ballarat
7 - Geelong Story House, Geelong, VIC
9 – The Gov, Adelaide, SA