Older Frowning Clouds still bring sunshine

frowning clouds modern

Frowning Clouds
+ Mug
+ Yep!
John Curtin Hotel, Carlton, VIC
Friday 23 September
2022 

I’m pretty sure the first time I saw Frowning Clouds was around 2007, upstairs at the Tote supporting The Dolly Rocker Movement.

The story was that the Frowning Clouds, at the time stumbling toward the end of their high school tenure, had been banned from the Tote for drinking in contravention of a venue management edict.

Apparently they’d been given a reprieve to play that night, on the promise no such unlawful activity occurred. But judging by the pint glasses in the band members’ hands and general unruly behaviour, they’d screwed the memo up and drop kicked it out of mind and sight.

At a subsequent gig, this time at the Birmingham on Smith Street, again supporting Dolly Rocker, the Frowning Clouds had accidentally brought Dolly Rocker’s psychedelastic set to an end when they managed to spill beer on the fold back monitors on the front of the stage.

Magnificent show signals that it's Oil over

oils hordern2

Midnight Oil
Hordern Pavillion
Monday, 3 October 2022
Shona Ross photos

Midnight Oil are Australian icons. People are often divided about where the split in their canon lives… that point where they stopped being a pub rock staple and moved into political activists. People of a particular political persuasion love them; they worship the ground they walk on, while their detractors feel equally aggrieved by their preaching. While tonight was one for the true believers, it also had something for everyone.

The Hordern has been the scene of Sydney’s greatest rock shows. This was one of them. It was the end of an era, probably where the last doors of an eight-tonne touring truck slammed closed on the glory days of Aussie pub rock. By the looks of the crowd of aged and gnarled surfers, elderly vets of rock days gone by, and the second and third generations of Oils fans, they couldn’t have kept up the pace of a five-night-a-week gigging schedule, anyway.

Wandering past the venue on our way to the Captain Cook Hotel pre-gig, the faithful were assembling en masse nearly three hours before kick-off. Hordes of worn T-shirts, black with the familiar yellow cover of their second album, “Head Injuries” adorned every second or third punter… as we neared the end of the Hordern and opened door gave us a glimpse of the Oils sound checking their 2020 staple “Gadigal Land” … and it sounded good. It augured well for the night ahead.

A rising star graces Marrickville with her presence

grace cummings great clubGrace Cummings
+ Lady Lyon
The Great Club, Marrickville, NSW
Thursday 29 September 2022

Sitting at my favourite breakfast haunt with the rain hitting its stride, the nearby beach appears to resemble a wild mosh-pit. The mobile phone rings. I decide to answer and then gulp the last of my coffee: it was my mate Vic.

"I saw Grace Cummings last night, and I know you’d like her; you don’t often see a support act get a standing ovation at the Recital Hall."

Vic rarely raves about too many artists, I slurped down my coffee and started to Google. As the rain pelted down, the sounds of Grace’s song "Heaven” blared from my phone.

That voice and what a song.

As the rain continued and I traversed the slippery pavement, finding spots of shelter on the way home. Grace’s voice resonated from the mobile phone in my coat pocket, sounding for all the world like music coming via a treasured transistor radio from years ago.

Forty years after "X-Aspirations", there's nothing like X at the Tote

x toteX
Tote Hotel, Collingwood, VIC
Saturday, September 10, 2022

Hello Barflies. Some things don’t change. There's |still nothing finer in old Melbourne town than The Tote Hotel, Collingwood, packed full of like-minded punters with a single purpose of getting their rocks off. And let me say that this Saturday night was no exception.

X were exceptional. I mean, they were just so “on” and tight. And so fucking dirty sounding. Steve Lucas just ripping his guitar. Man. he hits those strings hard. What a sound! I was literally two metres away from the great man.

X were celebrating the  40th anniversary of the classic album, “X-Aspirations”, playing the whole album in running order. How good it was. “Suck Suck” just busted out of the house sound system. Which is where I found Steve wrestling with earlier in the night when I dropped by to pay my pre-gig respects. He and soundie Dazza were in a state, trying to figure out said system. Thank fuck they got it sorted. Onya Dazza .

Kim Volkman (bass) was flashing the coolest pair of shoes I've seen in many a good year. Simon The Drummer was playing his third gig with X and second with Kim. He bashed and crashed through, locking in with Kim as a rhythm section that sounded like they’d been playing together for years.

Weather lifts as Penny Ikinger and band storm Woy Woy

penny ikinger bowlo 2022The night before the Woy Woy storm: Penny Ikinger at Marrickville Bowling Club. 

After 150 days, the rain stopped. There was sunshine and it was a Sydney long weekend. Not sure how many built arks and were still floating along while I was driving north on the Pacific Highway to the coastal town of Woy Woy this sunny Sunday afternoon - on a tankful of $2.30 a litre petrol with just enough change to buy a chocolate milk.

The Link and Pin Café at Woy Woy has evolved into the coolest gig - and who would thought the birthplace of Spike Millikan would be a new home away from home for veterans of the Sydney Trade Union Club and Hopetoun Hotel?

And why not? It’s a 90-minute trip by train, road or by ferry across water. It is an adventure that many Sydneysiders are taking to see that anyone from local metal bands, to alternative darlings to Chad Morgan. The venue even launched the new line-up of the Hard-Ons. There is a vibe here and it’s run by hardcore music fans.

Unrelenting feedtime and Examplehead satisfy a full-house

feedtime bowlo feedtime's Rick Johnson.

feedtime
Examplehead
Marrickville Bowling Club, Sydney
Friday May 20, 2022

Having never seen either bands live back in the day, this was going to be an extra special night. The original gig was postponed from June 2021 and then January due to COVID and tonight it was going ahead. I have been a huge fan of feedtime for many years, owning their self titled album, “Shovel” and “Cooper S”, along with a couple of singles from back in the 80s.

It is not often that either band play gigs (Examplehead have a few coming up and are worth checking out) so this was a rare opportunity to see both bands.

Patti raises Cain while living on Tulsa time

patti in oklahoma

Patti Smith and her Band 
Cain's Ballroom
Tulsa, OK  U.S.A.
Friday 6 May 2022

Patti Smith and her band were booked to play Cain's Ballroom as part of the Bob Dylan Center Grand Opening Celebration here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

After visiting the Bob Dylan Center earlier in the day, she posted on Instagram that she'd be "Raising Cain at Cain's".

I saw The Patti Smith Group at Cain's back in 1978. It remains one of the greatest concerts that I've ever experienced.

Starry tribute does SPJ justice

 spencer tribute tote

"Execution Days, A Celebration of the Life and Music of Spencer P. Jones"
The Escape Committee 

+ Adalita, Penny Ikinger, Sly Faulkner, Phil Gionfrido, Digger & The Pussycats,
The Pink Tiles, Claire Birchall, James McCann, Jules Sheldon, Foggy Notion,
Henry Hugo, The Last Gasp Horns

The Tote, Collingwood, Melbourne
Saturday 9 April, 2022
Photos by Michael Barry

Before we start, a disclaimer: I am a close personal friend of Patrick Emery, the author of "Execution Days: The Life and Times of Spencer P. Jones” and organiser of this gig. So therefore all objectivity is likely to be thrown out the window.

Patrick and I first saw the Beasts of Bourbon in a relatively small venue, Le Rox, in the city of Adelaide in early 1992. After the first few bars of the opening song, "Chase the Dragon", singer Tex Perkins kicked over the mic stand, the band abruptly stopped playing and Tex stormed off the stage headed towards the mixing desk. We were standing roughly in that area as he came charging in our direction and I was genuinely in fear that he was about to wreak some savagery upon us as part of the collateral damage of castigating the sound guy.

Cutting loose with The Meanies (and friends) on a Thursday night

meanies nick ramageThe Meanies. Nick Ramage photo. 

The Meanies
The Vains
Cull - The Band 
Jive, Adelaide
Thursday, 14 April 2022

You can't fault this sort of gig. First, it was one of those where folks you'd not seen in ages (I hadn't seen Nick in something like 25 years, for example0 and it was the eve of the first day where we can mostly ditch masks, QR codes and “social” distancing.Needless to say, most of us ain't 22 anymore so a lot of us were increasingly (and occasionally entertainingly - like the chap who tried to set up his own circular mosh pit) quite successfully drunk.

On the stage were three bands which instantly grab your attention, hold it despite your need to go for a wee or get more Coopers Pale, and keep you hanging on till the end of their set. 

I-94 Bar