James McCann leading The New Vindictives in Europe. JUXE photo.
1) The Damned @ 170 Russell St, Melbourne I’ve always loved The Damned: the rush of energy of their first few singles and albums. My wife is a big fan and she educated me on all things Damned. I missed them last time around so I was pumped to see them finally, to say the least.
I didn’t want to be disappointed so I did my homework and watched recent live shows on YouTube and read recent reviews. By all accounts the band was on fire , so I was ready for it and they didn’t disappoint.
They are still Punk Rock weirdos at heart and it was side splitting when Captain Sensible talked about Kurt Vile playing before them at Golden Plains: “It used to be Phil Collins and Paul Weller , but I’ve found a new one KURT Fucking Vile , what a fucking tosser “ It's true so much contemporary underground music is middle of the road , like Bread in the 70’s or LRB , this shit is still the enemy, even though I’m sure Kurt Vile is a lovely guy.
The Celebrity Roadie informs The Barman that he can't go out in public like that. As usual, he's ignored. Kyleigh Pitcher photo.
This is a Top Ten of two parts. First, live gigs, and second, albums. You know. Second part, different from the first.The rule of not reviewing my own gigs goes right out the door from the get-go. Got an issue with that? See you in the carpark...
Chris Masuak and the Sydney City Wave Riders: This was a sensational run of shows- a mini-tour in and around Sydney because that’s all that time allowed - by Klondike and his crack band of Tony Bambach (bass) and Stuart Wilson (drums). Great players, top blokes. Armed with a killer setlist drawing on most of Chris’s back catalogue, the guys fired from the get go. Many of the versions surpassed the originals with Maz playing two guitar parts, as few people can. The shows blew away much of the skullduggery and malakarey involved with certain ghosts from the recent past.
HITS at Marrickville Bowlo You can’t keep playing the same old songs or you’ll get staid and there’s no sign of HITS doing that just yet. Members are now scattered the length of the East Coast so it can’t be easy getting together…or maybe that’s a blessing in disguise because it keeps things fresh. They continue to be THE Aussie band to follow.
1 . Welcome Aboard – The On and Ons: Catchy, melodic powerpop tunes by former Kings Of The Sun and Screaming Tribesmen guitarist Glenn Morris with bass and harmony vocals by Hoodoo Guru/Stepfords /Wetsuits member Clyde Bramley, performed with energy and great live.
2. Beginning At The End – The Young Docteurs: Thirty or so years in the making and well worth the Wait. If The Young Docteurs had done more recordings they would have been one of the more influential Australian psych/Punk bands of the ‘80s.
3. Love Is A Gamble - The Steve Wernick Band: Folk rock, country and swing influenced songs well constructed and arranged, performed in a unpretentious, heartfelt way.
4. Johnny Streetlight- Chickenstones: Blues influenced, Aus alternative rock with songs about homelessness, gambling and cheating relationships but performed with upbeat humour. A great band to see live, too.
5. Rx- Loose Pills: Some of Sydney’s best powerpop musicians with tight, up beat songs.
1. The Sunnyboys / The Flaming Hands / The Shy Imposters - Enmore Theatre 2. Descent into the Maelstrom : The untold story of Radio Birdman 3. 4. Son Volt - Factory Theatre 5. Steve Earle - So You Wannabe An Outlaw CDLP 6. Tift Merritt - Stitch of the World CDLP 7. Lindi Ortega - "Til the goin' gets gone" EP 8. Ghost on The Highway : A Portrait of Jeffrey Lee Pierce and The Gun Club 9. Beware of Mr. Baker (Ginger Baker documentary) 10. (Far from) honorary mentions - - The Phringe Dwellers - recording new stuff with current line-up - Dave Favours and The Roadside Ashes - releasing and launching 7" single + recording songs for vinyl LP - Releasing my solo CD #4 "From Beth to Evie"
That Mr Barman fellow, of I-94 Bar notoriety, has graciously once again asked me to pen a brief diatribe on the music I heard this year that breached my inherent tinnitus (this being a persistent “ringing” that originates in the ear rather than in the environment.)
The noise heard by people with tinnitus may be a buzzing, ringing, roaring, whistling, or even a hissing sound and is often associated with hearing loss.
As I'm a fellow of balanced research, and YouTube had offered a viewing of their "2017 Rewind" collection. I felt it important to have a listen to the Boobtube wares in case it informed me of important musical/cultural creations that I had possibly missed over the past 12 months...
Lo and behold it did !! Instantly I discovered that the roaring, buzzing, whistling or hissing of tinnitus can INDEED originate in the environment, contrary to what was taught during my medical schooling. What's more, that the associated hearing loss was a relief !!
Fortunately, the remedy was simple. I turned the bastard off and wondered what parallel universe of musical endeavour had led to my sudden selective deafness as it righted itself.
So, as usual, I shall make an opinionated mention of songs/releases/bands that crossed my bows during the stated period, though the pushing of record buttons, mixing and the mastering may have occurred a little before. To me, the release was when I got my sticky hands on the product, played said product and was then taken by the throat....
Oh Christ. The Barman’s on the phone from Bondi. Says he’s gonna make me a star. David Essex once made me a similar offer which probably would have certainly given me a #metoo moment. A Top 10 list? Shit. Have you seen the state of Planet Earth?
Just when you thought the whole place couldn’t sink much further, they gave a pussy grabbing paedophile the keys to the kingdom and a button for his tiny finger. I tried not to write. Mother said something about “if you don’t have anything nice to say…” I’d been putting my foot in the truth for a long time and it was getting me in trouble. Hate mail. Death threats. I wasn’t allowed to attack their freedom to be dicks.
And it’s been a shit year with a whole bunch of old timers coming back to provide a less than memorable version of the past. I could name names but, let’s just remember I was there when those moments were something to throw your life behind. Best thing about saying that is anyone asking “Is he talking about me?” is probably right.
1. The Aints at the Factory. Theatre in Sydney. The songs of the Saints’ initial period hold up after four decades with Know your product (with a horn section FFS!) being the best live track heard in ages. Harry Howard and the NDE in support were great too.
2. The Clouds at the (now sadly no longer with us) Newtown Social Club. It was as they'd never been away and the new songs are great. The Factory show was even better and Falling Joys were fabulous in support.
3. Nikki Hill at the Newtown Social Club. First time I'd seen her live and I'm now a disciple. Great voice, great presence, hot band with two cranking guitarists. She's the emerging first lady of soul and rock. Ignore her at your peril.
4. Guitar Wolf at the Marrickville Bowlo. In an era when punk has become a cliché, Seiji and the boys delivered the craziest show I’ve seen in years, if not ever, in front of the wildest mosh pit I’ve seen in years. From the opening in Godzilla masks to the human pyramid at the end, it was one for the ages, all powered by an unrelenting rhythm section with the hardest working drummer in showbiz. Good to see Bunt in a larger room and they were great.
KC goes to more live shows than your mother goes to Tuppaware parties. Here's his Top Ten of Sydney gigs.
EVEN – NEWTOWN SOCIAL CLUB A power pop fans dream and a very early “gig of the year” contender from the Fab Three. Supported by the wonderful On and Ons and Soul Movers on a stinker of a summer EVENing. Is it heresy to say I like them and their songs so much more than You Am I? I eagerly await the Christmas Even show at The Landsdowne on December 23.
THE APARTMENTS – THE FACTORY FLOOR A wonderful set of sparse songs, full of emotion, not sentimental but heart tugging and soul searing. Spare and simple arrangements enhanced by nuanced and subtle musicianship of Peter Milton-Walsh’s fellow musicians, including Amanda Brown.
DIED PRETTY – ENMORE THEATRE Following on from two cracking shows in 2016, Ron Peno and co delivered another amazing set and they were the band of the night at Radio Birdman’s big show. Brett Myers, what a guitarist.
The Celebrity Roadie Peter Ross attracts fans wherever he goes. Veteran road manager John Pearce (right) inspects his ponytail to make sure it's real.
The On and Ons @ almost everywhere – The Sydney power-pop phenomenon rolls on and gets ready to record a third album. Strong songs from singer/songwriter Glenn Morris and the pedigree of Clyde Bramley, Jon Roberts and Brian Morris make for irresistible pop. Welcome Aboard! Watch
The Flaming Hands @ Factory Theatre & Enmore – A couple of power packed shows from these '80s icons blew my mind. Julie Mostyn’s crack band of Radio Birdman’s Warwick Gilbert, Peter Bull and Barton Price brought a polished sheen to Jeff Sullivan and Julie’s songs. They should come back again… soon! Watch .