1. Craig McRae I’ll get to music in a second, but I need to give kudos to the Human Fly, Craig McRae, for his amazing job as first year coach of Collingwood. From second last to one point off a grand final appearance. I don’t want to overhype him and I’m aware he’s only just started the role, but I think it’s safe to say McRae is on track to be Munster’s person of the decade.
2. TISM- The Croxton and Prince of Wales Bandroom After nearly two decades of nothing, it was wonderful to see the return of the band that put Melbourne’s South East on the map. Two brilliant warm up shows (missed the third), I was amazed that after all these years, the band, now approaching retirement age, put on a no holds barred show that included crowd surfing and the full contact dancing that you only see at a TISM show. The crowd was mixed of people that came back to relive the glory days, and plenty of young people seeing TISM for the first time. The songs are still brilliant, and hearing two new Ron Hitler Barassi diatribes proved that TISM are just as relevant now as they were in there 90s heyday. And these secret shows were a godsend, meaning I could keep well far from that odd festival they were on at.
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.
"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.
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.
Hello Barflies, another year nearly gone, another Top Ten and what a wonderful 12 months it has been. I got off the farm a few times for my horrible public transport trips to Melbourne. A thousand-kilometer return trip is getting harder and harder to get motivated to do, but some bands are bloody well worth it. Oh, and family and friends also. Big shout out to my gig buddy, The Tasmanian Bushman. 2023 - bring it on! So folks, here you…here’s my humble Top Ten.
X at The Tote X live at the Tote Hotel playing ”X-Aspirations” for its 40th anniversary. What a blast this night was. Steve Lucas’s screaming guitar and vocals are always great but at the old stomping ground, the Tote Hotel in Collingwood, they were something else. A memorable night and the gift of a scarf from Kim Volkman made my evening.
THE JOHNNYS The Johnnys at St Kilda Bowls Club was another wonderful gig. It was made all the better because it was my birthday and Bushy got me a wee bit drunk. And I got a present from Billy Pommer Jr.
Rubber Necker - Hollywood Hotel, Surry Hills. Three sets!! Free admission! On a school night! In Surry Hills! Just like the old days and Rubber Necker were brilliant. Their debut album is coming in 2023.
Patrick couldn't make the photo session so he sent Halfrid.
1. Spencer P Jones tribute night, Tote Hotel, 16 April. Everything I’d hoped from that gig, and more. Foggy Notion, James McCann, Digger and the Pussycats and the Escape Committee led by the incomparable, indefatigable Helen Cattanach. The opening three song salvo – “Terrorise Your Friends”, “What’s Got Into Him” and “Your Pretty Face is Going to Waukeegan” – with Sly Faulkner on vocals and The Last Gasp horns, was as powerful a start to a set that I can remember. So much love in the air. Spencer would’ve loved it.
The year started with a lot of writing and preparing of songs which would appear on the debut album ''Love is Calling by Mick Medew and Ursula .The world close to us was starting to look engaging again with Covid seemingly dissipating
1. Love is Calling Release - June 19 Our album is released on June 19, gaining much attention. Having the album chart on 4ZZZ's chart show for four weeks and being selected as Album of the Week is yet another example of our wonderful radio station being good to us . Seeing many reviews and articles in print was a first for the century. Thanks to Craig Barman for all the hard work.
1. Dion Lunadon “Beyond Everything” Album This is the second solo album by ex-D4 member Dion Lunadon. I actually discovered his first album via a review on this very site and loved it instantly. If anything this one is even better - a really cool mix of super raw Stooges-y guitars, moody synths, atmospheric interludes and balls-out garage rock.
2. Love Gang "Meanstreak" Single This band's debut album “Dead Man's Game” was one of my favourites of 2019 so I was stoked to get this tasty morsel from their follow up due in January 2023 on the excellent Heavy Psych Sounds label. It’s a roaring greasy blues proto metal number that absolutely pummels the listener. Kind of sounds like Budgie meets Motorhead and all the awesomeness that would entail.
Ten Things, Bands and Albums that have caught my eye in 2022, in no particular order.
The Square Tugs – “Monster Hits “ This LP is a cracker. The Brisbane-based trio started out as a Circle Jerks cover band (hence the name), but this isn't a one-dimensional release: 16 tracks that channel everything old school (the Ramones, The Damned etc) into a great album that gets better the more you listen. Its an old school sound without sounding jaded; it still manages to sound fresh with great production and a mix of songs which are funny and also political. Most of the songs clock in at under two minutes - the only disappointment is that they're over. Check it out.
The Dark Clouds – “My Way Or The Highway” It's taken forever for these slack bastards to get an album out, and as a consequence many of these songs will sound familar to those of you who have seen ‘em live. It's been worth the wait though as this is a belting rock ‘n’ roll record. Led by a larger-than-life frontman, a wicked lead guitarist and a tight as a fishe’s bottom rhythm section – they’re just as good on record as they are live which is no mean feat. They are one of the most under rated live rock bands in the country. Uf there was any justice they would be filling big venues. If you are fans of rocking proto punk, or balls-to-the-wall Aussie pub rock you'll find something worth your while here. Buy the record, catch them live (they're old - every show could be their last.)
THE GODFATHERS "Alpha Beta Gamma Delta" One of my favorite '80s kid rebel bands still making top notch punknroll with smart lyrics, Beatles quality melodies, and new wave movie romantic vibes. So great, exactly the kinda music I wanna hear in my elderly Goth years. I totally vibe with every note on this modern day masterpiece. They still speak straight to my heart.