It was the sort of rock’n’roll crowd you would have expected to find in St Kilda. Weathered old punks, redoubtable rock dogs, wandering spirits from a bygone era. Lots of black, some punk rock bling, a room full of fading memories of lost nights and wasted days.
And so much love. Love for rock’n’roll, and love for the late Brian Hooper, whose new album, "What Would I Know?" was being launched, with a cast of his loyal friends and rock’n’roll family.
The obligatory "I missed the opening act" apology: It’s a long hike across town by public transport, especially when there’s a connecting bike ride in there as well. The fact that my household was engrossed in a compelling episode of "Peaky Blinders" rendered it inappropriate for me to spirit out of the place in time to see Joel Silbersher and Charlie Owen revive their Tendrils project.
Serendipitously, but sadly, the last time Tendrils appeared on stage was at Brian’s fundraising gig. Everyone I spoke to said it was, as always, memorable. Hopefully next time Tendrils play it will be free from the spectre of tragedy.
God bless those wonderful creative people who say: "Screw this boring world, I'm gonna do what I want to do". Because, when all is said and done, we won't be here forever, and if what you fancy makes other people dance and leap about like they've got uncool illnesses, so much the better.
Yeah, yeah, I know. Everyone who claims to love rock'n'roll has their own idea of what rock'n'roll is.
And, it's a suspicion of mine that a hell of a lot of rock'n'roll bands exist because no-one is playing the kind of rock'n'roll they want to hear (this may have been one of Kim Salmon's reasons for re-emerging with another Scientists in 1982).
Last week we saw The Animals, sharp and bright as a new nail, rejoicing in the simple power and beauty of the r'n'b explosion, and the determination to stay stable in a troubled world.
Original and current Animals drummer John Steel. Mandy Tzaras photo.
Can't take her anywhere. This writer's photographer pissed and moaned about the walk from the car to the venue in the usual female preposterous high heels, wibbling and wobbling all over the shop. That'll larn me, in future I'll drop her off outside before parking the car.
Anyway, Jello-On-Springs tipped most of her first glass of white all over me while we were chatting with a friend (I'm sure I deserved it) in The Gov's rather lovely Front Bar (they always have a band on there, so the locals and regulars have some live music if they're not interested in, say, Tweefolkies, The Smythes or Iggy and the Squeezevomits).
Ferocious Chode get down at Bombay Rock.
Hello I-94 bar users and abusers; it’s been a while but I'm very pleased to let all you Melbourne punters out there know that the wonderful Bombay Rock (on Sydney Road in Brunswick) is back up and running as a venue.
The State of Victoria has championed the Australian underground music industry. Fuck, it is good to see Bombay Rock back. Run by Smash, the wonderful lady who also backs up playing bass and looking bad-arse with Ferocious Chode (more later), who has hand-picked all the venue’s acts.
Then, there’s the most friendly crew of bar staff - shit, they make you want to drink just that few more - and for the prices, this old pensioner can certainly do that. So folks, I highly recommend this fine place. And Smash, you are awesome.
Vic Conrad's band The First Third has a drummer who plays hard and owns the kit, a guitarist who knows how to dance in and out of a tune, a bass player who, like Vic, runs a record shop.
Vic himself sings, plays guitar and two keys. They're really damn good. Sixties structures sieved through to now. Apparently they'll have a new CD out soon.
But I'm here to see the Pretty Things.
As I left, the two original members and one of the more recent recruits were answering questions and signing merch, while the bassist and drummer were chatting at the exit with assorted fans. This is a band who are comfortable with their crowd. Because, to them, they're not that far removed.
Let's get rid of the "original members" thing. Like a lot of bands who came up through the R & B scene in the 1960s in England, not only was their lineup not always been stable, some of the band were linked to the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd and god knows who else.
Phil May, the vocalist (looks a bit like a movie star) and one of the band's songwriters, is one of the two members who've stayed the distance. The other is the incomparable guitarist Dick Taylor, picured right.
Dick Taylor and Phil May of the Pretty Things.
Lou Reed posed the question: "What becomes a legend most?" and it's a fair bet that playing a Wednesday night in Sydney at theFactory Theatre wasn't an answer uppermost in his thoughts.
But that's the lot of the Pretty Things on this temperate Aussie evening. A fact of life for one of the original wave of British blues-rock bands and a band who were contemporaries of the Rolling Stones, briefly giving Mick and the boys their first bassist before they'd even settled on a name.