It is always hard to cut it down to ten but here goes.
Ice Cream Hands supported by Bryan Estapa Band- Factory Floor, Sydney A great night of cleverly and carefully crafted power pop from Ice Cream Hands as Charles Jenkins and co bewitched us again with their sublime sounds. Support act Bryan Estapa Band were also a delight with their songs that owe a bit of a nod to high quality 70s AM radio sounds.
Charlotte and The Harlots/COFFIN/Turbobelco/Generation Landslide/Hy Test/Neptune Power Federation – Marrickville Bowling Club, Sydney All killer no filler as this mighty bill saw each band up the ante and be better than the one before them. COFFIN and Neptune Power Federation were especially outstanding.
Thee Marshmallow Overcoat – The Caravan Club, Oakleigh, Melbourne. Ashley Naylor, Davey Lane and Brett Wolfie playing two sets of their favourites from the 60s and 70s. Do I need to say more?
Ice Cream Hands – The Caravan Club, Oakleigh, Melbourne. Oh yes, the night after Thee Marshmallow Overcoat, at the same venue. Bliss, heaven on a stick and a more sympathetic mix than was apparent at the Factory Floor show.
The Dark Clouds/Mick Medew and The Mesmerisers/Radio Birdman – Factory Theatre The Dark Clouds showed why they are one of the best hard rock bands around but it was Mick Medew and The Mesmerisers who wowed the crowd with their set. Peppered with tracks from the Open Season album and select gems from Mick’s back catalogue they were the stars of the night. Radio Birdman also delivered a fine set and it was probably Rob Younger’s best vocal performance with RB for some time.
KEVIN "BIG DADDY K" CHERRY 2RRR-FM host of "Sydney Sounds" Sydney, Australia
I'm sure that everyone agrees that 2020 has been a shitty year. The worst I can remember in my 60 years on this planet. I'm not generally into reminiscing and my bad short term memory usually prevents me participating in these types of lists. Living on the Northern Beaches area of Sydney and being in lockdown for the second time, however, I've decided to attempt to give my impression of the year's music events.
The last band that I saw before the first lockdown in March (which resulted in all the gigs I had planned to go to in the following weeks collapsing before my eyes like a stack of dominoes) was THE MEZCALTONESat The Orient Hotel in Sydney’s The Rocks district.
THE MEZCALTONES are a fantastic Mewxican Hillbilly Surf band from the Northern Beaches fronted by COL “PADRE” PORTER, his guitar-slinging wife NERALYN and whip-twirling, go-go dancing, singing percussionist, MISS MIMI, as well as the three other members. They always put on an entertaining performance of original songs and crowd pleasing covers and obscurities. They attract an audience that loves to get up and dance.
I also saw them at a socially distanced performance at The Marrickville Bowlo, which was a different atmosphere due to the restrictions, which meant that none of the audience could get up and dance or even stand with a drink in their hand.
Half of the Flaming Hands: Julie Mostyn, Warwick Gilbert and Jeff Sullivan. Drummer Baton Price is obscured. Murray Bennett photo
In preparation for their upcoming support slot with the Sunnyboys at the Enmore Theatre, the band calling themselves "The Strangers" - aka The Flaming Hands - lined up a show at Marrickville's Factory Floor.
The Thursday night crowd gathering outside the venue contained many familiar faces of gig goers and musicians from what was loosely termed the "Detroit Scene" of the late '70s-early '80s from which The Flaming Hands emerged.
Flaming Hands have announced their line-up, six weeks out from their Sedition Festival show at Paddington RSL on August 31, and it’s an all-star cast.
Founders Julie Mostyn-Gilbert (vocals) and Jeff Sullivan (acoustic guitar) will be joined by Cub Calloway (guitarist with the Saints, New Christs and Ed Kuepper and The Yard Goes On Forever), bassist Warwick Gilbert (Radio Birdman, Hitmen, The Rats), Barton Price (The Models) on drums, John Hoey (Died Pretty, New Christsw) on keys and Phil Hall (Sardine v, Drop Bears and Lime Spiders) on sax.
Coinciding with this news, a rare 35-year-old Flaming Hands clip for single “The Edge” has resurfaced online.
Sedition 2019 is a Celebration of Public Art and Protest in Sydney during the 1970s, running across various venues and spaces this August-September. To celebrate, Feel Presents have put together a live music component featuring some musical giants from Sydney’s fertile post-punk scene of the late 1970s.
Mark down Saturday, August 31 at Paddington RSL for a show by The Aints!, Flaming Hands, Shy Impostorsand The Professors. DJ Dr Rock with be providing the soundtrack between sets. Tickets go on-sale at 12 midday today here.
Ed Kuepper needs little introduction; as a founding member of Brisbane world beating proto-punks The Saints - residents of Sydney for a short four months in Jan-April 1977 - and Sydney’s post-punk giants the Laughing Clowns (1979-1984) Kuepper is almost single handedly responsible for igniting two musical movements.
The Aints! is a continuation of those both projects having lain dormant for some 35+ years but reignited with a passion in 2017 that has thus far seen the release of two full lengths albums, a mini-album and a series of scorching live shows.
Flaming Hands and Shy Impostors both sprung from the ashes of Sydney's exclusive Detroit scene headed by the pioneering Radio Birdman during their reign of 1974-1977.
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"
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.
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 .
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 dictionary defines serendipity as “a pleasant surprise” and it's a term that scientists working in medical research are fond of using. It’s also at the heart of how the looming reformation of beloved Sydney band the Flaming Hands came about.
Singer Julie Mostyn is on the phone from the Coffs Harbour home she shares with husband Warwick Gilbert, onetime bassist and graphic artist for Radio Birdman. She clearly remembers serendipity’s intervention on that very same landline, late in 2016.
“It was one of those life-changing phone calls…one that shocks you out of something you’ve been trying to get out of for a while,” she recalls.
“It was a call from Peter Oxley of the Sunnyboys, and he said: ‘Would you consider reforming the Flaming Hands?’ And I thought for half a second and said: ‘Yeah, that’d be good’.”
Talk about timing. It was as good as any excuse for Julie to ditch her day job in a local bank and embark on what's not so much a career revival as a chance to revisit great times, renew old partnerships and - maybe - push the musical boat out just a little further.
More on that last point later. More immediately, it means Flaming Hands supporting the Sunnyboys at the Sydney show of their February Australian tour, with similarly reformed friends, Shy Impostors, opening the gig.
Flaming Hands were Sydney’s best soul and psych pop band, a potent and popular outfit based around Julie Mostyn’s passionate voice and guitarist Jeff Sullivan’s emotion-baring songs.
Ed Kuepper leads his Aints! through their final show for a while.
Sedition 2019 The Aints! The Flaming Hands Shy Impostors The Professors Paddington RSL, Sydney Saturday, August 31 2019
It could have been an exercise in nostalgia for its own sake. It was anything but.
On paper, a bunch of bands digging into their own back pages is a fraught exercise. Things can never be what they once were; voices age and players who were at one time singularly focused on the musical here and now inevitably drift on or find new interests. Some pass on. Others fall out with each other.
Each of these bands come from a special time and a place that can’t be re-captured. Each was leaning, to some degree, on their back catalogues tonight. All were doing their best to be true to their own legacy without getting hung up on it.
Catch Monday Evening Gunk on the MoshPit Faccebook at 7.30pm every Monday or catch up here every Tuesday. Next up on Gunk: Chris Masuak of Radio Birdman, the Scraming Tribesmen, the Hitmen and the New Christs who will be interviewed by Bob Short (Filth) and Tiffany Palmer (Sydney Rock and Roll Markets) and play a set with his band, The Viveiro Wave Riders.
Phantom Records founder and Radio Birdman roadie/manager Jules RB Normngton chats to old friends Julie Mostyn Gilbert of Flaming Hands and Warwick Gilbert, bassist and graphic artists for Radio Birdman, on on our "Monday Evening Gunk" Internet TV show at 7.30pm Sydney time on Monday, October 26. You'll "Break Down and Cry" if you miss it! You can stream if free from the MoshPit bar Facebook page or catch up here on the day after. If you're in Sydney, admission is free but numbers are limited, and doors open at 6pm.
Alternative title: "He Gets by With Some Help From His Friends".
Producer-guitarist Bruce "Cub" Callaway assembled a stellar cast for this, his 2013 return to recording after a lay-off, and it shows.
John Hoey (Died Pretty), Warwick Gilbert (Radio Birdman), Paul Larsen (Celibate Rifles), Clyde Bramley (Hoodoo Gurus) and Julie Mostyn Gilbert (Flaming Hands) all played roles. Lesser-knowns Ian Johnson, Louis Callaway and Harry Rothenfluh also contributed drums.
I set out this afternoon towards the Enmore Theatre with every intention of taking some notes, keeping a rundown of the songs, and trying to come up with the sort of review that some people actually get paid to write.
Unfortunately, this grand plan fell apart by the time I’d been at the Warren View Hotel for an hour and met 26 (yes, I counted them) people I knew and ended up in more shouts than it was feasible to manage. Coopers Red is a great beer but a lousy friend when you’re trying to make a plan come together.
By the time I got to Phoenix (or at least the Enmore) it was 7.15pm, the Shy Impostors had just come on stage, and I was carrying enough Red on board to ensure that an in-depth profound analysis of the gig was as unlikely as AC/DC inviting Dave Evans back into the fold. So you’ll have to put up with this instead.
Thirty-five years ago, Sydney's Sunnyboys released their eponymous debut LP. Containing the hit singles “Happy Man” and “Alone With You”, the album enraptured teenagers of the time (and generations to come) with an astute blend of hi-energy, pop hooks and brooding, longing wordplay.
In celebration of the album milestone and the premiere period from when it sprang, Sunnyboys will take to the stage in February 2017 for a handful of shows playing a set entirely derived from 1981; a set that will also include Sunnyboys, the album, performed in its entirety.
For Sydney fans there will be the added bonus of seeing Sunnyboys 1981 gigging partners Flaming Hands – featuring singer Julie Mostyn and songwriter Jeff Sullivan – performing their stripped back blend of ’60s style soul, R&B and psychedelia for first show since 1985!
Joining them on this momentous Sydney line-up will be legendary Sydney act Shy Impostors. Fronted by singer/songwriter Penny Ward and featuring the pre-Sunnyboys Peter Oxley and Richard Burgman alongside drummer Michael Charles, Shy Impostors existed for just nine months during 1979-80 and releasing one (great) record only; the posthumous “At The Barrier” single in 1981.
In days to come, when rock and roll has finally been relegated to the cultural nursing home to be read its last rites. It'll be a nice room with dappled sun, shared with other old cogders like Jazz and Rolling Stone magazine.
People will reflect that some of its best times were in Sydney in the late 1970s and early ‘80s. They’ll also realise how good things were, and how easily they slipped away.
This wasn’t going to be one of those high faultin’ essays on the fragility of cultural scenes and the futility of trying to recapture them (because, you know, things can never be like they were.) About how you can’t put your arms around a memory. Telling you: Don’t Look Back. But a story "angle" can just happen.
Sometimes we try to bury nostalgia or pretend it’s not a valid thing. It’s so easy to hope you die before you get old when you’re in the full flourish of indestructible youth…and then you want to take it all back when you realise that the future's not so much uncertain and the end is increasingly near.
So let’s make the observation that if nostalgia isn’t so much the elephant in the room at the Enmore Theatre tonight then it’s taking up much of the available space in the foyer. And that's fine. More than ever, with so many people who were influential in rock and roll dropping off the twig. We all crap on about how bad 2016 was for that sort of thing but of course it's only going to get worse.
Right: Sluggo from Flaming Hands under the Enmore lights. Shona Ross photo