A roomful of love amid the loss

beasts adl

The Beasts
The Johnnys
The Gov, Adelaide
March 17, 2019
Photos by Alison Lea

It's the last night of the Adelaide Festival and the city centre is abandoned to the tourists, and no doubt some "end of festival" official shindig, doubtless adding anodyne "vibrancy" (one of Adelaide City Council's favourite buzzwords) to the joint.

Meanwhile, Adelaide's finest and most intelligent people are voting with their wallets and pile into the Gov, many having come from miles around. One bloke is here with his wife from Kangaroo Island (more expensive than a trip to Melbourne or Sydney); another bloke flew 300 miles to arrive at 4pm, with a return flight at 8am. There are many happy drunks.

Tonight was the most beautiful gig I've seen in years, if not ever. I cannot remember a more wonderful, cathartic experience.

Smoke, mirrors and substance

jamc adl2

The Jesus and Mary Chain
The Gov, Adelaide
March 15, 2019
Alison Lea photos 

Late the following afternoon I received a message to the effect that I was off to see the Jesus and Mary Chain that night. My photographer, engrossed with preparations for a seven-year-old's birthday, told me where to take myself. I called Peter, I called Bob. Both busy. I called a different photographer and we presented ourselves at the rather wonderful Gov, where I eventually hope to be buried.

Intoxicating Mick Harvey and friends

mick harvey adlMick Harvey:
"Intoxicated Man. Presenting the Songs of Serge Gainsbourg"
Elder Hall, Adelaide
March 14,  2019
Mandy Tzaras photos

Verdict in a nutshell: Brilliant. You shoulda been there. Get the CDs instead.

It's a strange place, Adelaide. A reputation for bizarre and secretive murder blends with a town which happily dozes for most of the year, abruptly jerks to life as summer hits with the subtlety of a jackhammer, and keeps the long-suffering residents on their toes: the steady stream of utter twatheads who emerge from beneath sordid rocks, blinking into the light of the civilised world for the first time; the ubiquitous meth-heads roaming the streets and communing with the sky; the endless and confusing roadworks; endlessly over-running building works; a hospital which doesn't seem to work very well (though it does provide an excellent example of how to make a place unpleasant for the customers with, presumably, the intent of discouraging their attendance for all but the most involuntary admission) ...

These are all everyday local wonders, and frankly we should charge admission. The Festival, The Fringe, the stupid car race, the writers week, WOMAD and so on and so on and so on, all serve to ensure large numbers of normal South Australians keep their distance. 

Jesus and The Mary Chain's perfect pop set to the aesthetics of noise

jmc majotielveCredit: @majortielve

It's easy to forget just how good the Jesus and Mary Chain actually are; how many drop dead classic songs they have recorded. Then, on a Thursday night at the Sydney Opera House (no less), they ram a shit ton of their greatest hits down our throats and they still leave out a huge chunk of back catalogue just to spite you.

They make it look easy. But being this damn good is not easy.

Ghosts of the fallen honoured as The Beasts take shape

the beasts clip

The Beasts

Croxton Park Hotel, Thornbury, VIC

Saturday, February 23, 2019

I’m pretty sure Spencer Jones is the only member of the Beasts of Bourbon, past or present to have played the Croxton Park Hotel, back in ita heyday. That would have been in 1982, when Spencer was playing guitar in the psychedelic cabaret troupe North 2 Alaskans.

Back in those days The Croxton – ‘the Croc’, to its more familiar patrons – was a bastion of the suburban beer barn circuit. AC/DC played there back in the day, Rose Tattoo, The Angels, Chisel, all the Oz pub rock greats.

The Alaskans didn’t really fit in with the pub rock crowd, but they were as funny as a fit, and damn good musicians too. The Alaskans were, in hindsight at least, a link in the chain that led to the formation of the Beasts of Bourbon.

John Dowler brings the jangle that's hard to resist

john dowler live in melbJohn Dowler with his band The Vanity Project. David Laing photo. 

In his 1981 feature on Australian powerpop pioneer John Dowler in Roadrunner magazine, Melbourne rock writer Adrian Ryan commented on Dowler’s then-new band, the short lived Everybody’s So Glad. He said they played with a certain kind of soul, and a type of sound that hadn’t been heard in town since Paul Kelly & The Dots underwent a line-up change too many, and since the Saints were last here. It was the kind of sound that “had nothing to do with horn sections and screams, but rather with jangling guitars, a passionate beat, allusions to something half forgotten.”

I love that soul and those jangling guitars. Being Melbourne born, I heard a bit of at as I was getting into music. It’s not the jangle of some insipid jangle-pop band, it’s a hard jangle, which is where the Saints come in. Ryan was referring to the Saints that recorded such classic tracks as “Call It Mine”, “In The Mirror” and “Let’s Pretend”.

Brothers-in-arms, Chickenstones put on a pearler of a show on their home turf

chickenstones beah clubWhen you realise we came up to Sydney from Adelaide solely to see The Chickenstones you may deduce from this that I am a tad biased towards the band. However, if I were able, I would simply be at every gig they do, because, to my mind, they really are that good. 

However, one of the reasons I can't dash all over the country is the inevitable lack of money (donations are welcome), and another is that I work in a family-operated business, so I fit myself around what everyone else is doing. Mostly this means that there are things on interstate which I would love to see, but can't. 

Opening band Dias - pronounced Dee-az - have good songs and the young folk love them. I think they may also be currently in a bit of transition, as some of the songs showed a similarity of purpose, while some of their others seemed to be coming from some other place.

Guitar and vox, bass and drums; it's amazing how varied people can make such a traditional set-up. While comparisons are effectively fairly useless, my photographer was reminded of The Whitlams, a musician in the audience was thinking about The Strokes, and I was reminded a little of early Go-Betweens. Truth is, I'd characterise them as a richly shiny, slow-burning surf waltz.

They went down well with the very mixed crowd (old unionist surfers and their wives, and folks who may as well be their university-aged grandkids ... hell of a mixture). I don't know if I'd liked Dias if they'd still had their other guitarist - what interested me was that, as I say, I think they're still trying things out - which is always an excellent reason to see a band.

Trio of bands make it real in Radelaide


brando rising adelaideBrando Rising strut their stuff last weekend. Marina Valieva photo. 

Someone from interstate recently commented that it looks like Adelaide is the place to be right now.

No, it's not. And certainly not with another inexcusable electricity price hike on the cards this year - do our Fearless Leaders have any idea what damage this is doing to the economy? No? Perhaps those protesting schoolkids could do better. Certainly they found a better cabinet in Ikea, so they must have a better idea about things than the current crop of cockwombles. 

However, the bleary light of today reveals that, had I known about the other gig last night, I might have faced a difficult decision. Missing the Yard of Retard gig, with (among others) Fear and Loathing and the first appearance of Bomber Down (featuring, as YoR so eloquently put it, "Rob Szkolik, Adelaide’as gayest man") would have caused a grave personal "torn in two" moment, as I had put my grubby paw up to see Brando Rising at the Enigma months before the gig was booked. Instead, I see the results of the Yard's gig on Fartabout and, not for the first time nor, I suspect, the last, I rather wish I could clone myself so I could do several things at once.

Lincoln back to the '50s for a shaking good time

the lincolnsThe Lincolns. 

Okay, hands up, please. What are Croatians famous for being passionate about?

The Ustashi, says one. Well, once upon a time the Ustashi did arouse passions, but they seem thankfully forgotten. That's not the answer I was hoping for. Any one else?

Confusing civil conflict!

Hmmm. You're a cynical bunch. No, Croatia is renowned for being passionate about their football, or 'soccer' as we here in Australia call it. (The term "soccer" is a mangulation of "association football", BTW).

So, ho to the Croatian Sports Centre, home of the Adelaide Croatia Raiders Soccer Club, is at the end of a curving drive and situated between a Woolworths unload and reload depot and the Adelaide Superdrome, the headquarters for Cycling SA.