Putting their best foot forward for a right royal Rogering
Tim Rogers frontign the Hard-Ons is As Beautiful as a Foot.
Enigma Bar, Adelaiude
Saturday, April 3, 2022
Long story short - I'm still reeling. The Hard-Ons have crossed the Rubicon and what they're doing in Australia is anyone's guess. Right now they should be out slaying the world, Europe then USA, then South America. We're damned lucky to have them. I might add, I don't reckon we deserve them.
Cull was mean to be the opemnig band but cancelled. Dammit. I've tried about six or seven times to get out of the door to see them. The one time I get there ... Reports have reached me that they're damn fine.
New support, Ratcatcher, went on later than planned because one of the folks in the band second on the bill couldn't do it – thanks COVID.
Haven't seen them for a while, but by god they're so good. Think - if you must - So-Cal meet the Saints circa 1977. And yes, they are almost that good. They of course don't belong in Adelaide, but either Sydney or hammering through Europe. Such great, powerful songs. Heavy sharp bass, fill-in drummer (apparently, I wouldn't have known) and a guitarist ...
Rat Catcher are frankly mighty fine. Get onto them here.
So, here's Tim Rogers fronting this extraordinary, legendary band at the Enigma Bar on the tiresome Hindley Street only a few weeks after he stole the show in the “Sticky Finge”s' tribute at Adelaide's newly-swanked Festival Theatre. This is quite an experience.
The Festival Theatre, in case you don't know, is posho-posh-posh mai deer, while the Enigma Bar is a tad rough and yikes. Think Melbourne's The Tote, but without the useful beer garden thing (which conceals all manner of sinful behaviour), and with more “off-duty” bikers.
Despite appearances, a lot of damn fine bands have played the Enigma - for example, I've seen Buzzcocks, the Meanies, Glen Matlock and Leadfinger, which is a pretty impressive swag. Apart from Ian Dury and Nick Cave, I can't only think of too many rock'n'rollers who've played the Festival Theatre (I'm sure there are many more but ... urgh).
Yeah, so. The contrast is striking.
Frankly, the Hard-Ons have made fine rough pop for decades (and yeah, that's what it is. Call it punk if you like, but hey, the Ramones weren't punk) and I love that they've taken their influences, written them all different and created a mental and emotional landscape which is both uniquely Australian and astonishingly broad in appeal. Very few bands can do this.
Toward the end of a sweat-drenched set which was exhausting to watch, Rogers gestured to the band and said, "This is the hardest working band in show-business. And I'm one lucky old poof."
Rogers clearly loves these songs, loves the band and pours absolutely everything he has into a performance so physical it would make Mick Jagger weak at the knees. The Hard-Ons have chosen a sharp, physical, blatantly sexual performer as a front-man. At 52 (that's right, over 50) Rogers bounds on like the Eveready Bunny (but way more interesting) and doesn't stop for a full two hours. At (yep, over 50) Rogers has (1.) no business whatsoever looking so fucking thin and fit, (2.) no business whatsoever powering through a lengthy rock'n'roll set with a zest and energy that most blokes in their 20s couldn't do the half of. Yes, I'm jealous.
That should wake you up.
Once upon a time Henry Rollins joined a So-Cal band. He was a fan, knew all the words, and was intense. He changed the band, whether they liked it or not.
The fans were divided. Rollins wasn't the old singer. Boooo! Despite the whinge that they want something 'different', since 1977 (I was kid, really, but wasn't asleep) punks have been incredibly conservative in so many things. The leather-jacket-and-jeans-and-shitty-sneakers look. The white-painted band-names on the back of the leather jackets. And so on. The fucking stupid studs. The fucking fucking 'I'm a victim' mentality. Don't get me started. I mean, no wonder smack took hold so readily.
Ahem. Today, of course, Rollins is synonymous with a lot of things (including appearances in music documentaries), but arguably Rollins is known most for his time with Black Flag, the band he joined (after the band were trying out singers left and right).
And tonight, while most of the crowd loved the Hard-On's performance, there were detractors. A chum of mine (who I won't name) found Tim's Iggy Pop moves to be more a distraction than anything else. On the other hand, I received this text:
I like the Hard-Ons better than I did before & it's kinda like Hard-Ons have a baby with Jane’s Addiction with a bit of Jimmy & the Boys. Don't tell Ripley Hood but Tim is my new fucked-up rock idol. He fucken rocks it like Frank N Furter.
Now that's from the heart. I've seen this outfit several times over the years (with a bunch of gaps between) and ... this is their most impressive incarnation. The maturity, the simplicity of the songs, the power ... all this goes to waste if you don't have a brilliant front-man. Joey Ramone might not have leapt around, but he practised his moves and made sure what he did was always dynamic. Name another front man if you like.
Sure, so Rogers is channeling Iggy Stooge (1973-1974, I suspect) but I repeat, very few performers can pull this off. It can't be easy being Tim Rogers, but he deserves more kudos than I can say for going this route.
Blackie, Ray and Murray are a unique group of talent and tenacity. Rogers comments several times about how great a songwriter Blackie is (and the man looks embarrassed each time); Ray Ahn does stuff to his bass that makes you think of Johnny Ramone... but he is, arguably, more full-on and has way more fun mucking about with the posing. No, Ray and Blackie are a treat to watch - several friends of mine simply enjoy watching them for the entire set. So - yeah, well, there's a lot going on. Then there's Murray.
Ferocious. Such a tight, tight band.
Apart from all the old farts (like me) in the throng, there were a healthy sack of young folks (ie, 20s-30s) bouncing up and down like drunks on speed. So many folks dancing. Wonderful to see.
Deb (she of the astonishing Angry Anderson smooch)tried to get on stage and she, like another enthused lady a few songs earlier, found herself firmly and politely turned and ushered back down as Tim continued the show, not missing a damn beat.
I found myself wondering just how hard this was for him. He loved the Hard-Ons as a young 'un, and presumably knew most of the words anyway. But that's a not the same as walking into the rehearsal room with people you admire. And then, doing the tour thing, and enduring all the shit and expectation. Not easy.
Three years ago, I wrote, "tonight they were hungry and mean, like drunken outback butchers in the Cross for the first time in eight years. Down to kill, in fact. They powered on regardless" - well, they eclipsed that gig in spades. Don't be dumb. If you love rock'n'roll, see the Hard-Ons.
Lastly, I gather there was a Hard-Ons documentary in the works. Once they include this incarnation... there will be rioting in the streets.Hell, if the rather timid, tasteless and goofy ABC don't buy it, Channel Nine will.
Seriously, I felt a bit like I was watching one of those bands who started small and suddenly broke everywhere.
Why? Because... they deserve to.