Dig It Up! Live at The Enmore Theatre – Sunnyboys
There are reunions and there are reunions. The short story is that this DVD is well worth the fuss. One of Australia's best-loved bands of the 1980s, reconvening in full for the first time in 21 years in emotionally-charged circumstances, would be a good enough excuse to watch this show, just for curisoty's sake. That they nailed it with their original spirit, enthusiasm and energy intact is the icing on the proverbial baked product.
In case you've been living under a dying coral reef or holidaying with the Amish, Dig It Up! was a Hoodoo Gurus-curated festival of their musical wet dreams promoted by promoter Tim Pittman's touring-company-cum-label in April 2012. The schedule literally did dig up musical wonders like The Sonics, The Fleshtones and Died Pretty for a cavalcade that did the rounds of most large Australian cities.
The Sunnyboys had been sporadically sighted on stages since their dissolution under frayed circumstances in 1984. The original line-up, however, hadn't surfaced since 1991. Singer Jeremy Oxley's struggle with schizophrenia, only revealed when Feelpresents issued the definitive compilation in 2004, had largely cut down the band and limited any thoughts of them getting back in the saddle. Until the Dig It Up! prospect dawned.
Billed as "Kids In Dust" (an old, one-off alias) with a now married and evidently much healthier Jeremy at the helm, this one-off re-appearance blew the Sydney crowd away. Given all that, if you weren't tearful you then you were at least experiencing shivers up the backbone. Obviously older, undoubtedly wiser and, in a couple of cases, a little heavier, the Sunnies did the improbable and enhanced their already giant reputation with a set of powerpop classics, thankfully all captured on video by the Moshcam team.
If the choice of "As I Walk" (a Jeremy song from a post break-up Sunnyboys line-up in which he was the only original member) was an obscure choice as the ice-breaker, there was no mistaking numbers like "Alone With You", "Love To Rule" or "Happy Man". The Moshcam crew did a great job of shooting this 11-song set and it's well edited without gimmicks or an overload of jerky MTV cutaways.
The staging was low-key and the band set about their work with the sort of no-nonsense presentation ethos that you would have expected with just two days rehearsal behind them, but there's no mistaking the sense of pride and enjoyment that surfaced throughout. There's the odd mis-step along the way that wasn't apparent on the day but you'd have to be a hanging judge to take issue. These are four guys jumping back into the familiar with surprising ease.
A minor surprise for me was the percentage of lead breaks Jeremy took over Richard Burgman on the day. Not a biggie and the times Burgman steps up he reels out some nice stuff. Of course, the way both meshed were a big part of the band's charm and the partnership sounds pretty good. The same can be said for the engine room combo of Bil Bilson and Peter Oxley. Peter's kept his hand in over recent years with gig with Ed Kuepper. Big Bil doesn't seem to have lost much and still has that killer grasp of power with swing. My guess is the pairing would be even better with a little more playing together.
What was a one-off has spawned some limited touring and there are re-issues pending. Let's hope the sparks lead to something more - like new recordings. Time will tell.
It's a no frills DVD package with no liners or extras to speak of, but that's of no import. Save the bonuses for the box set. What you see is exactly what you get. Order it here. It's a live set that should be a compulsory purchase for anyone with a rock music bone in their body.