leadfinger - The I-94 Bar
In an alternative universe where justice prevails, Leadfinger would be spending their Friday night cranking out a two-hour set to a packed Hordern Pavilion. Five-thousand sweaty people would be singing along to every word of every song from their newest - superb - album.
Instead, they’re middle-of-the-bill and out front of a half-full Factory Floor in Marrickville. And the thing is, to watch them and to listen to those brilliant songs played with such passion and fire and love, you wouldn’t know the difference on stage.
This was only my second Leadfinger show. My first was at the Blood Bank Benefit for Mick Blood in 2014. I’d heard of them but not heard them. I spent the next 40 minutes standing there with my jaw on the ground going “Who the fuck are these guys and where have they been all my life?” Now to be fair, I had waged a blitzkrieg on sobriety that day and only remember general amazement, and a scorching cover of “City Slang”, but I blabbered about them for ages to everyone I spoke to in the real and cyber worlds.
Ripley Hood stands in for Mick Blood in the Lime Spiders. Steve Whelan photo
Ten bands. One bill. Despite being run (a.) in what is, these days, a notoriously taciturn live music town as Sydney and (b.) in direct competition with some obscure code of football’s grand final, it made sense.
Blood Bank was one of four benefit shows in as many cities to assist Lime Spiders vocalist Mick Blood, rendered unable to work after an altercation a few months ago in a pub in his newly adopted home town of Newcastle. Mick suffered a brain injury and is on the mend but it’s going to be slow progress on a long road.
After such a phenomenal fundraising performance by Team Leadfinger (Melbourne Branch) and everyone at the Tote Hotel in Melbourne recently, it’s time for Sydney/Wollongong Team Leadfinger to run with the momentum created.
A group of friends are organising “See You Tonight – A benefit gig for Stewy ‘Leadfinger’ Cunningham” at Marrickville Bowling Club on Friday, November 23.
Cunningham, singer-guyitarist for Leadfinger, Asteroid B612, Challenger 7, Proton Energy Pills and The Yes-Men, was diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year
This will be one memorable night with a host of Sydney and Wollongong artists coming together to celebrate the man and the music that is Mr Cunningham.
Also on the bill are international tourists Señor No, direct from the Basque country in Spain. High-energy veterans Señor No are big fans of Australian underground music and played host to Leadfinger when they toured Spain in 2017. This will be their only Sydney show.
The line-up is:
- SC5 (Sydney’s own amazing MC5 tribute featuring ex members of the New Christs and Lime Spiders)
- Señor No
- Adam Young and the Down Main (Adam and mates bring some Alt Country rock to the night)
- 300 St. Claire (Sydney Blundstone rock from guys you all know)
- Fangin Felines (a very new band with Carrie Phillis from Booby Traps and Morgana and Sarah from Nitocris)
- Dave Curley’s Ripped Genes (featuring members of Leadfinger along with special guests Kent Steedman (Celibate Rifles), Bill Gibson (The Eastern Dark) and others.
Be sure to stuff your wallets with cash money for the night. With the awesome assistance of some great labels and record stores across Australia, organisers will be raffling off CDs, vinyl, tees and other goodies. Tickets here.
Hey Sydney: you don't wanna miss rock royalty, Stewart 'Leadfinger' Cunningham in rare solo mode (playing both six and 12-string acoustic guitars) at the Midnight Special in Newtown on Sunday, October 18.
Leadfinger's history speaks for itself - The Proton Energy Pills, Brother Brick, Asteroid B612, Challenger 7, The Yes Men - and the opportunities to see him this stripped back and intimate are few and far between.
Joining him are acoustic alt-country punks, The Saloon Daddies. Entry is free and it's an early start at 6pm.
Damien Lovelock leads the Celibate Rifles. Shona Ross photo
It was a big week for rumours - and that’s not a reference to that awful Fleetwood Mac album being on high rotation.
Celibate Rifles were playing two successive nights in Sydney. A Friday at the near dormant ‘80s venue Carmens at Miranda in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire, and a Saturday at one of their local stomping grounds, Narrabeen RSL.
It was about a fortnight before that the gossip started to fly.
The podcasts are coming thick and fast now. Episode 32 of Drunk and Disorderly is live, with music from Donald Trump, The Damned, Flamin ‘ Groovies, Sator, The Hellacopters, The Godfathers, The Volcanics, Dion Lunadon, James McCann and The New Vindictives, Leadfinger, P76, X, The Hip Priests and The Dream Syndicate.
The first benefit show for Leadfinger leader Stewart Cunningham has been announced and it boasts a star-studded line-up.
Hoss is headlining the September 14 show at The Tote Hotel in Melbourne. They'll be joined by supergroup The Draught Dodgers, Swedish Magazines, Powerline Sneakers, Wrong Turn, Matty Whittle (ex-GOD) and the Melwayholics, James McCann and Adalita.
Tickets are available hereand there's a GoFundMe pagerunning for people unable to make it to the show. Organiser James McCann says there will be a stack of prize packs of music and merchandise being raffled on the night.
Cunningham, whose past bands include Asteroid B612, Brother Brick, Proton Energy Pills and Yes-Men, is fighting lung cancer.
A Sydney benefit is in the pipeline.
Erm, Barman..? Five Rolling Rocks in your review for this which follows below? I beg to differ. Seven bottles.
The Barman made the rules up, and he’s scrupulous about playing by them. Reflects well on him. Me, I don’t have the time or inclination to give shit reviews to shit music; if “Friday Night Heroes” didn’t cut it, I wouldn’t review it. A 3 or 4 means the LP is either interesting and promising at the very least, 4 means its very good. Five bottles means that this a damn fine LP.
Today, Leadfinger merit a much greater score because first, these songs are songs which will last, and which will become like old friends, and therefore go higher in our esteem, and second, well, truth is I can’t stop playing the bloody thing. The other rather remarkable thing is that, in context with the rest of the band’s output, “Friday Night Heroes” stands out.
Leadfinger and guests. Shona Ross photo
It’s just not fair. They couldn’t just be content with releasing “Friday Night Heroes” - a record that’s on the (very) short-list for Aussie Album of The Year. Those unassuming Leadfinger blokes went and put on a live show to launch their record that was as good as Real Rock and Roll gets.
You can dismiss the above statement as hyperbole and never hunt down their music but it would be your loss. If Sydney’s live music scene replaced half its acts with bands as good as Leadfinger, we’d be Melbourne. Venues would magically re-open. People would go out again. It’s that simple.
The dilemma in Sydney is that gig-goers who used to consume live music regularly now conserve their funds and energy for something special or familiar. That indirectly pushes down the quality of bands – except, maybe, on a subterranean level , where the kids go – and that makes punters less likely to take a chance. Ergo, The Law of Diminishing Returns collides with Cultural Fragmentation. Hello: Cover Bands and Heritage Acts. Not that there’s anything wrong with that at the right time and place, but if it wasn’t for originality, we’d have no history to chase down.
And you worry about minor shit like Trump getting his hands on the thermonuclear launch codes…
They're one of Australia’s best bands, Leadfinger, have been working hard on a new album at Linear Studios in Sydney. The new long player's not long from finished but now it’s time to test the water with some of the new tunes and get some live rock action (otherwise known as beer and fun!!)
Along for the ride are their mates from Adelaide, The Pro Tools, whose ranks feature ex-members of The Exploding White Mice and the Bloodsucking Freaks.
The mini-tour's duybbed The Punk and The Rocker. Says "the rocker" Leadfinger leader Stew Cunningham: “These guys play an explosive mix of punk and hard-edged rock’n’roll with ("the punk") Pete ’The Stud' Howlett’s blistering guitar attack up front and loud.” That’s some recommendation.
Special guests on Thursday and Saturday night are some more Leadfinger buddies from Newcastle, The Delta Lions. Friday night’s guest at the Hammo Station Hotel in Newcastle are The Grounds.
Leadfinger + The Pro Tools
16 - Frankie’s Pizza by the Slice, Sydney + The Delta Lions
17 - Hamilton Station Hotel, Newycastle + The Grounds
18 - Dicey Riley’s Hotel, Wollongong + The Delta Lions
One of Australia's most soulful rock and roll bands, Leadfinger, is unleashing its new album “Friday Night Heroes”. The Sydney leg of the launch tour is at The Factory Floor in Marrickville on July 15...which, fittingly, is a Friday night.
Leadfinger's fifth album was recorded in mid to late 2015 at Sydney’s Linear Recording with Wade Keighran (Wolf & Cub, Steve Smyth Band) behind the controls. It is out now on vinyl, CD and digital through Conquest of Noise Records.
Supports for the Sydney launch will be Melbourne band Powerline Sneakers making their first trip to the Harbour City and Newcastle’s Rangers of the Universe.
Powerline Sneakers feature Sly Faulkner (Splatterheads) on vocals and John Nolan (ex-Powder Monkeys) on guitar, Katie Dixon (ex-Ripe) and Mark Hurst (Guttersnipes/Yes Men) on drums.
Rangers of the Universe is a new band featuring Scott Nash (ex Asteroid B-612/Carrie Phillis & the Downtown 3) and Jason Maljers (ex-Jim Cobain) on guitar.
Tickets can be procured here.
After almost a decade of hanging around the fringes of the Australian music business, Leadfinger are making their first trip to Europe to play a run of gigs this October.
The tour kicks off in Paris before zig zaging across France with support from locals Asphalt Touregs, who feature former Fixed Up singer/guitarist Francois Lebas.
After a layover in Switzerland to play Geneva and a spot of recording in southern Spain, the tour ends with a couple of gigs in Barcelona and Madrid with fellow Aussies, James McCann and the New Vindictives.
Leadfinger is one the best underground rock’n’roll bands in Australia right now.
Since forming in 2007, they have released five albums through various labels, including Spain’s Bang! Recordsand Australia's Citadel Records.
The most recent Leadfinger album, "Friday Night Heroes” - out through Conquest of Noise Records - was met with high praise as their best yet.
Leadfinger rocks out. Adelaide slumbers. Mandy Tzaras photo.
It’s going to take a while to recover from this weekend. Each of the bands above play very different rock from each other, and were all well-suited in the line-up. Curiously, at each gig I was reminded of the late Darby Crash.
Friday night gigs are always a bit weird as so many of today’s musicians have day jobs. So, for example, they finish a week’s work and, instead of coming home to a beer or four and a chewie, people have to hurry home, put their gear together, get their stage concentration going and head out the door.
So a Friday night gig has all the makings of tired people fucking up and so on; for myself, I have work the following day, so I have to curtail the popping of champagne corks (cue: mock-chorus of “aaww” followed by a hail of empties).
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.
Compiler Geoff Ginsberg of Real O Mind Records nails it in the opening words of the liner notes when he observes that rock and roll is music for old people, made by old people. Not only is no-one appearing on this collection of 20 songs aged under 40, some have offspring who have been on the planet for longer than three decades. The clattering of canes and rattling of Zimmer frames never sounded so good.
If Stewart "Leadfinger" Cunningham's metamorphosis from razor-riffing Detroit-inspired rocker to introspective alt.balladeer threw fans of his previous bands, his shift to tough-talking bluesman with glam overtones might suit them better.
If you're at The Bar I'm sure you know who Stew "Leadfinger" Cunningham is. A real legend of the Australian underground leading or taking part in such fantastic bands as The Proton Energy Pills, Brother Brick, Asteroid B-612, Challenger 7, Yes Men.
Leadfinger in full flight at Bulli's Heritage Hotel with Carrie Phillis assiting on backing vocals.
They've been around for a decade but I've gotten into Leadfinger a bit late in the piece. I had heard word that they were one of the best bands in Sydney, and I knew their leader, Stewart Cunningham, from previous outfits like Proton Energy Pills and Asteroid B612, with whom I’d shared stages. So we went all the way back to 1989.
The penny finally dropped at the Tim Hemensley Memorial at the Tote in Melbourne about three years ago. Bombarded by the hard Geelong-Melbourne garage rock sound, it was Leadfinger (along with HITS) who were the highlights for me.
Leadfinger played upstairs. I watched a band that was thoughtful, with a great collection of songs and a broad variety of influences. The guitars chimed and lashed out, there were great vocal hooks, and the tunes were memorable. I decided that I liked them a lot.
Dunno if it's a spring clearance of some spare recordings or a pause before the next long-player, but this eight-song EP from Wollongong trio Leadfinger hits the spot. My only hope is the title isn't prophetic - and of course you can make sure it isn't. More on that after I tell you why it works.
Simon Chainsaw with The Liberators at Frankies Pizza in Sydney. Anthony Mitchell photo.
2021 was a bit of a re-run of 2020.. lockdowns, gigs cancelled, industries decimated. While in 2020 I was inspired to create and consume, 2021 left me fatigued, lethargic and generally disinterested. Let’s hope 2022 too is not a rerun! However, there were some bright spots that come to mind.