We three ladies - my daughter, sister and I - got into town, parked in the nearby parklands and hurried to the Cathedral Hotel. There was no sign of religion in the Cathedral, so we sculled a wine each and hurried across the park through the crowds to the Oval.
What was it like? It was six hours on my feet. Occasional whiffs of dope smoke. Beer spilled over me from all sides and from above. The odd three, four or five angry altercations, quickly stifled before the bouncers could arrive.
For overseas readers: Cold Chisel created a bubbling, intense hard-rock scene in ythe 1970s and greatly influenced the Australian music industry.
They came before Radio Birdman. And they started in Adelaide.
To be precise, quite often at the Largs Pier Hotel. Which, if you look at a map, you will discover nestling in Largs Bay, to the north-west of Port Adelaide which, back in the early-mid ‘70s, was not quite as foul as Port Melbourne, but none-the-less, decent people didn’t go there. A local joke goes that over there you can hear the largs baying, but … as I said, decent people don’t go there…
Cold Chisel had a rough-as-guts image, and played rock akin to punk before punk, used feedback where it was effective, and were huge all around the country in the '70s and '80s. It would be interesting to see what might have happened had the Hitmen been this successful at Chisel’s expense… but that is to tempt the cobra called Fate.
Never seen Lizard. Look like surfies. Hard rock. You might like it.
Never seen Numbskulls. Fast hard rock. Some pretty good playing and a few really good structures. You might like it.
A lot of the audience enjoyed the support bands. To me they seemed a bit too formulaic. That said, make your own minds up. The Numbskulls T-shirt is worth buying - the logo is terrific. They have CDs as well. Check them out.
Never seen The Meanies, neither. I didn’t even know they were in town until two days ago. I remarked on seeing Link’s band, Sun God Replica, in Melbourne recently. I loved Sun God Replica. Amazing band. Damn fine songs, great, tuff, fast’n’bulbous structures. See Sun God Replica. Demand T-shirts. Buy CDs. Christmas is coming. They’re on Spooky Records. Get out there.
The Meanies have a new album out. Buy the LP, CD and T-shirt. Before they sell out like all the others. I asked the chap in Basement Discs in Melbourne about Meanies records and CDs. They’re currently out of print, apparently. They’re hugely popular, so popular that they don’t turn up second-hand very much.
Tonight The Meanies were hugely thrilling, great fun, absorbing, ridiculous and endlessly admirable. Quickly on the band: they're tight, they know how to accommodate their frontman, but they're clever enough to give themselves enough variety within the songs so that the whole band shines. Link McLennan takes The Meanies up onto a different cloud, however.
Mark E. Smith - Barry Douglas photo
Seeing a band three nights in a row rather reminded me of when I used to see interstate bands like the Laughing Clowns play the Tivoli in Adelaide; how I afforded it I cannot really recall, but I never had enough to buy any drinks…
The Thursday night would usually be fairly sparse, the Friday a bigger crowd, and the Saturday the joint would be full to bursting. The Thursday and Friday I could usually dance without biffing into people, the Saturday night it would be too crowded up the front, which I spose is is why I think that anyone dancing extravagantly at a packed front of the stage is just rude (as it forces other folk away). Call me Mr Polite, then, go on.
Never was an LP title more prophetic: “The Wonderful and Frightening World of The Fall” was the band’s seventh album, released in 1984. Thirty years ago, The Fall looked like being about to “cross over” but … nope, after numerous minor hits, Mark E. Smith and his band has never had one in the Top 10. Perhaps that’s partly Mark’s idiosyncratic approach to recording, singing in a manner which either causes confusion or a swift twiddle of the knob.
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.
It’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.
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