Live Review: Dave Mann Collective @ Freo Metropolis

Dave Mann Collective, Tourist, Howie Morgan Project
Metropolis Fremantle
Friday 4th August 2006
Review by Paul Speering

On Friday night, I decided to check out Fremantle Metro’s for a night of original music.

The first thing worth mentioning is the pure size of the stage; it must be a band’s dream to play on a stage that big! It made for some great stage antics, with guitarists and bass players jumping up on the drum riser to keep the stick bearer company all the way up there.

Howie Morgan and his Project were a great way to start the night. A cool, laid back mix of cruisy blues and roots, tied together nicely with a smattering of up-tempo tunes that kept the smallish but very interested crowd bopping away. There was one dancer especially who really, really got into them. Anyone who was there will know what I’m talking about. Technically, all three musicians were very solid. Howie has such a great voice, and had a great connection with his audience. One possible way to describe them is to imagine a nice warm lazy Sunday arvo in January, with the sun setting over the ocean… you get the picture!

Tourist, having not heard them before, I wasn’t sure what to expect and I wasn’t sure how they’d fit in with the two other blues and roots acts. They had more of an upbeat pop rock sound, but with elements of both blues and roots in their tunes. They certainly had the crowd up and dancing, which is almost always a good thing. By the time they hit the stage, the place had filled out nicely, with the dance floor population steadily increasing during their set, and passing that energy over to the band. Once again, it was hard to fault the musicianship, and the lead guitarist had the ability to launch into some great solos.. However, their sound was fairly commercial, and it wasn’t really anything that hasn’t been heard before. They also went significantly over time, and that cut short The Dave Mann Collective’s set. Not very professional.

What more can I say about The Dave Mann Collective that hasn’t already been said? They were simply superb, as per usual. However, due to the height of the stage, there wasn’t the same connection with the crowd as I have seen at other venues. But that was only one small negative. The introduction of a new member on keyboards to the ‘Collective’ was a surprise to me. Although he was highly competent on the instrument, and added depth to the sound, I can’t say for sure whether it’s a good thing or bad thing at this stage. Seriously, if you haven’t yet seen DMC in action, do yourself a favour. You will not regret it.

On a sour note, due to the previous band going overtime, and the need to get the shit cover band on, DMC’s set was cut short. Poor stage management was the culprit here. Overall, the music was great, with DMC and the Howie Morgan Project kicking arse.

Live Review – Death Cab For Cutie

Death Cab For Cutie
Metropolis Nightclub, Fremantle

Tuesday 18 July 2006
Review By Drue Vickery

It had been a long time since I had been so excited about a gig (probably since Mars Volta at BDO) and all my expectations were fulfilled. Very rarely does a band play pretty much every tune you want to hear, but Death Cab did this.

Death Cab For Cutie began with “Marching Bands of Manhattan”, to rapturous applause. Early highlights were “Soul Meets Body” which drew a massive sing-a-long from the crowd, and the haunting “I Will Follow You Into The Dark”, possibly one of the most poetic songs of recent years.

Some older tunes to make the set included “Why You’d Want To Live Here” and a few from We Have The Facts And We’re Voting Yes, but the crowd favourites were definitely the tracks from Transatlanticism. My favourites from this album were “The New Year”, which was just plain awesome, “We Looked Like Giants”, which had some phenomenal synchronised drumming, and my highlight for the night, “Title And Registration”. As soon as I saw Ben (Gibbard) pick up the drumsticks I just knew that this was going to be the song, and the opening got everyone jumping before a big sing-a-long.

At one point during one of the keys based songs, Ben calls for a clap-a-long and promises “This will be the only crowd participation part of the night”. Well sorry Ben, for proving you wrong, but I can’t help singing to your songs, they’re just too good. One thing I noticed about Death Cab is how tight they are. Before last night I underestimated the importance of Chris (Walla), Nick (Harmer) and Jason (McGerr). I knew Chris, as the producer, was real important to the records, but onstage he is energetic, passionate and more than competent, as are Jason and Nick.

As far as I know, Brisbane tickets are still available, so if you read this before that show and you can still get hold of tickets, make sure you do it because everyone will be telling you how good it was if you weren’t there.

Come back soon Death Cab. I’ll be waiting. (P.S. Nick, I hope you don’t already have that Chewy figurine).

Live Review: Southbound

Southbound Music Festival
2nd January 2006

Review: Susan Clark

The second annual Southbound kicked off early on what promised to be a hot, sunny day.

Patience, John and Alana from The Grates put on an energetic show. Patience’s energy is amazing, managing to dance, prance and forward tumble around the stage, as well as sing- well, perhaps a little breathlessly after all that. Their music is a strange little mix of indie pop which translates well live. I thought the songs were a little “small” for a festival environment- especially on the main stage. The band really got the crowd amped and dancing around in the early heat of the day, especially to the radio tunes- trampoline and sukkafish. The Grates were the surprise package of the day and were one of the highlights.

Dallas Crane were next on the “Offshore” Stage and blasted away those people game enough to stand in the sun. Some have dismissed the band as being “too pub-rock” and just “alright”, though this band has some fantastic accessible music that was unfailing in getting the crowd jumping and screaming for more.
As far as festival events go, this band is perfectly suited. Dave Larkin and the boys have been gigging for a while now, and have really perfected their sound and stage presence.
For me they were the highlight of the day, and I was a little disappointed they didn’t get a later slot, when it wasn’t so hot and people could dance around like loony’s without the risk of sunstroke.

I tried to avoid the “Big Top” as much as possible as it was more of a sauna than another stage.
People, fans, please!!!!!!!!
I managed to catch a bit of the Panics. Lots of new songs were played to a very appreciative audience. I couldn’t help thinking that perhaps if I had a camper chair, bathers, icy cold drink of something and a sprinkler under my chair, that I may have enjoyed the set more.

Xavier Rudd

The two acts I was particularly looking forward to, the Dandy Warhols and Ian Brown, turned out to be particularly disappointing.
The Dandys managed to grace the stage late after their sound crew took too long setting up the stage. This seemed to knock about the band as they tried to take the audience on a drug induced psychedelic musical journey, but was unsuccessful as they had to chop up the set and end early.
Most of the song were pretty unrecognisable until the chorus, though Godless was a definite standout song. The set was self-indulgent and a bit of a let down after all the hype.

Running over to the Big Top to catch Ian Brown, I missed the opening tunes- apparently the geezer slipped in Made of Stone, a Stone Roses track. Many people were looking forward to Mr Brown, aka the Monkey Man, most loving him for his previous incarnation as front man of the Stone Roses- and for the beginning few songs, the Big Top was packed. But…Yes there is a ‘but’…and a pretty big one at that. Brown came on with a second rate band, and a rather over-sized ego. He did the geezer dance, the Bez dance, and some fairly stage gorilla like antics in between. I’m not sure what he expected from the audience, but obviously it wasn’t Stone Roses requests. Brown complied with Adored and Waterfall. In typical Brown style, his singing was out of tune, but there were plenty of fanatical fans out there to sing and drown him out.
Wisely closing with fear the performance ended on a high. The crowd of course screamed for more, and were rewarded with a fairly interesting rendition of the Sex Pistols Submission.

All in all this year’s festival was a bit of a let down. Some of the big names on the bill didn’t deliver the goods, and the festival fell flat as the heat drained people’s energy.

Live Review: Southbound

Stewart Bovell Park, Busselton
Mon 2nd January 2006
Review by Rohan Hewson

Southbound is an all-day and night festival much like Rock-it or the Big Day Out, with one obvious difference: it’s held in the south-west coastal town of Busselton. This is the second year it’s been held.

The entry to the festival was a bit chaotic – the separate camping entrance wasn’t signposted that well, so I ended up going in the wrong gate and ended up having my bags searched half a dozen times by the time I got in. The security guards made everyone tip out all bottles, apparently it was the rules – no opened bottles of anything whatsoever. There was also plenty of Johnnie Walker, goon etc being poured out – what a waste of perfectly good alcohol. So eventually I got in, and then had to wait for 20 minutes in a line to fill it up again at the tank, with warm water. Once in, though, everything was fairly well organised.

I heard the Grates while I was arguing with the dopey door people, having my bags searched etc – they sounded pretty good, and I heard from a bunch of people who were closer that they were great, so I guess that’s a thumbs up. After them, Dallas Crane played fairly standard Aussie pub rock, heavily influenced by bands like Cold Chisel and AC/DC. They get that worst, most boring kind of review… yeah, they were OK.

The Panics played in in the big top, the smaller stage in a huge dark blue tent. The played quite a good set, but the heat in there was unbearable – next time, the festival organisers need to get a few large fans in there (the blowy kind), or open up more flaps of the tent. The bass player made himself extremely popular with the crowd by spraying cold water out of his bottle over the crowd. They played mainly new stuff, but finished with ‘Fire On The Hill’ like they always do. I heard them described by someone in the crowd as ‘Oasis with keyboards’, which is kinda right, but they’ve definitely got their own unique sound.

What I saw of the Beautiful Girls wasn’t that great… I like them, but they seemed to have been smoking up a bit before the show. The main guitarist especially messed up the solo bit from La Mar, so it sounded pretty average instead of awesome, like on their album. So I went to the mixup tent for a while, and listened to DJ Dan Stinton playing some nice funk, soul and groove tunes. That tent was much cooler and better ventilated, making it a nice place to chill out for a while.

Xavier Rudd was pretty cool, if only for his ability to play half a dozen instruments at the same time – he had three didgeridoos, a couple of guitars which he alternated between, a harmonica, various percussion and god knows what else. It was just starting to cool down outside as he played, and his blues’n’ roots was quite nice late afternoon music.

Over in the big top, the Shins were fantastic. They were one of the main drawcards for a lot of people, so the tent was pretty full. They played a lot of songs from their first album ‘Oh, Inverted World’, and also a few newer ones including one that’ll be on their next album. They had a few technical problems, but one of them ended up being quite cool – something went wrong with the drums, so ‘Pressed in a Book’ got a 3 minute intro on keys and guitar while they fixed it. They finished up with an almost unrecognisable but quite good rocking-out version of ‘One By One All Day’.

The Hoodoo Gurus played to one of the biggest crowds of the night on the main stage, and didn’t play any new songs at all; with a back catalogue of some of the most memorable Australian songs of the last 25 years, they didn’t need to. The crowd sang right along, especially to ‘What’s My Scene?’ where Dave Faulkner held the mic out into the audience for a couple of bars of the last chorus. It was an absolutely awesome performance, and everybody loved it.

The Dandy Warhols were OK, starting with one of their long, droney songs. Their set was quite weird – they alternated between the long fuzzy psychidelic songs they do so well, and the crowd pleasers like ‘Junkie’ amd ‘Bohemian Like You’, which they didn’t quite do justice to. They played a lot of old stuff too, including a couple of album tracks which I really didn’t expect to hear, for example: ‘I Love You’ from their 1997 album ‘The Dandy Warhols Come Down’. The old stuff was good enough, though; their new stuff isn’t anywhere near as good as what they released in the late 90’s. They finished with their very strange cover of ‘Hells Bells’ by AC/DC, with a trumpet doing the main riff. In fact, there was too much trumpet in the set… it was there in almost every song. It’s great in ‘Godless’, but that’s where it should have been left. And that last song degenerated into howling feedback that really hurt my ears… I had to walk away a few minutes before it finished, for the sake of my hearing.

Ozomatli were great, with their mixture of hip-hop, funk and many other styles being a lovely way to finish the 12 hours of music. However, the best bit was at the end. Anybody who was there will remember this… the band walked off, but suddenly the trumpet and trombone players were in the middle of the crowd, and everyone sat down on the grass to watch the brass section tooting away. Meanwhile, Ian Brown and some other guy were taking photos from the empty stage. Then the rest of the band appeared out of nowhere with the other two, and it turned into this huge messy conga line full of people clapping in time and all the players dancing along while playing their instruments (the drummer had a couple of people holding his drums). This mess ended up in front of the artist signing desk, and did this impromptu little jam for a couple of minutes, and then finished for real. I haven’t done that justice… you basically had to be there, and not many people who were will forget it.

There were some flies in the ointment, but on the whole this festival was really good, much better than Rock-it (a similar large festival). There was plenty of sunscreen in the camping area, and it was free (and very useful), and there were plenty of toilets. Sure, they got a bit grotty by the end of the night, but that’s only to be expected, and there were stil good ones left next morning. The food was a bit pricey, but at least it was supporting the local sporting clubs, Variety club etc, as well as chains like Chicken Treat. The coffee van was especially nice… apparently they were from the Wray Cafe in Freo, and their chocolate brownies are still the nicest thing I’ve eaten all year. The price of alcohol was absurdly expensive, as it always is at these large events – $7 for a beer is overkill. Next year, if they have more shade and more water taps, and don’t shut down the camping fun early at 2am, it’ll be pretty much perfect.

Live Review: The Grates @ Amplifier

Amlifier Bar
Friday 16th December 2005

Review By Rohan Hewson

New Rules For Boats play a kind of music that’s like country, but without being annoying and twangy; just good fun pop music with a fair bit of rock. Tonight was a fairly normal performance from them, getting a nice party mood going in the Amplifier, which was filling up quite early because of there being two interstate acts playing.

Expatriate had a much larger audience than they did a few months ago supporting Decoder Ring, as their EP ‘Lovers Le Strange’ has had quite a bit of airplay on JJJ. There were probably as many people watching them, the second support band, as there usually are watching a headliner at the Amps. It was fairly easy to work out ‘The Spaces Between’ was the song being flogged most on air; it got far and away the biggest cheer of their set, both at the start and the end of the song. They sounded a lot like the Cure or Joy Division, with that particular style of guitar, vintage keyboard, and especially the singer, who had a voice quite similar to Robert Smith. They possibly wore their influences on their sleeve a bit much, but their influences are great bands, and sounding like great bands from the past is hardly a bad thing. Most of their songs sounded quite similar to each other, although ‘Sleazy’ broke the mould in a big way, living up to its name and being great fun to boot. They put on just as good a show as they did last time they were over here, but this time with more people to appreciate it.

As soon as The Grates came on stage, just about every person in the place flocked to the inside area, leaving only a few people out in the warehouse part playing pool, and a somewhat uncomfortable crush anywhere near the stage. They had a much more basic setup than Expatriate, with only a guitarist, a drummer, and the colourfully-dressed main singer, Patience, who jumped up and down like a ten year old girl on red cordial for the entire set.

After just about every song, she excitedly told the crowd how much she loved Perth, Perth people rock, how excited they are to be playing the last show of their tour, and so on. It was a bit over the top at times, but never insincere; her energy couldn’t possibly have been faked. This was translated into the music too, with her dancing even more than the crowd. There were apparently people dancing up the front, but I couldn’t even get close enough to see. I suppose that’s a good thing.

When they finished, the enormous crowd yelled out for an encore, and the band came back on, dragging most of Expatriate, some of New Rules For Boats (including the incomparable Ben Golby) and some other random people on stage with them. There must have been fifteen people up on stage. This is what encores are meant to be, not just another couple of songs on the set list but something that happened because the crowd genuinely loved them. I hate to use such a bad pun, but this show was… grate!

Live Review: Matters of Fiction CD Launch

Matters of Fiction, Grand Central, Burgers of Beef
Amplifier Bar
Friday 25th November 2005
Review by Rohan Hewson

Possibly the funniest band in Perth, the Burgers of Beef started the night playing to a couple of dozen people, all crowded around the edges of the room. The Amplifier looks so empty when people do that. The mixing was pretty ordinary, with the trombone in one of the songs sounding more like the horn of a semi-trailer, but they made up for it with fun, sometimes hilarious songs (whether or not you listen to the lyrics). There’s definitely no other band in Perth with songs about penguins or Linda Ronstadt in their repertoire. They do have a reesonably normal love song though, their new single ‘Satellite’, which a few people were singing along to during the chorus. A few people drifted in throughout the set, and by the time they finished the crowd had probably doubled.

Grand Central played a set of fairly generic melodic rock, most of which didn’t stick in my head that much after they finished playing. It was enjoyable enough though, with enough hooks, interesting chord structures, and other words that sound good in reviews, to be quite attention-grabbing while they were playing. Their first song was the best of the set, with some cool sounding yelling over the guitars.

By the time Matters of Fiction started, the Amplifier was packed – they drew quite a crowd to watch them launch their EP ‘All You’. They played a similar kind of music as Grand Central, but with the addition of a keyboard and harmonica, neither of which were used enough in their set in my opinion. The harmonica especially was a nice touch when it came out… it’s an instrument commonly used by quieter acoustic acts, but rarely by louder rocking acts. It really spiced up the song it was in. Also quite interesting was when the singer sat down at the keyboard and played some of the slower songs of the set. He’s no Tim Freedman but it worked pretty well.

Unfortunately, the songs that stuck to the tried-and-true guitar / bass / drums formula just didn’t grab my attention that much… it got quite hard to tell the difference between some of the songs. Luckily, though, there were enough interesting sounding songs in the set to even it out. They kept my attention till the end, anyway, which not all bands do.

Live Review: Pitstop Festival

Pistop Music Festival, Fairbridge
Friday 25th November 2005
Review: Susan Clark

Fairbridge Village is known by thousands as an idyllic wedding location, or the place where many smuggled alcohol to for their year 9 camp.

According to Pitstop event organiser, Adele Dixon,
“The concept of the Festival is to provide as alternative avenue for entertainment whilst encouraging young people to celebrate the end of school in a safe and controlled environment, which will be a ‘Drug Aware’ no alcohol, drugs or smoking event.”

A noble statement, and it probably secured funding from certain groups, but it seemed to have scared off all the schoolies.

There was a very poor turn out, less than 250 tickets were sold pre-event, and only a few more turned up at the gate on the day. The prospect of not getting tanked on alcohol and other substances, running and partying madly through the streets, then eventually passing out and waking up in some strangers bed probably scared the schoolies off.

It’s a pity the crowd turn out was so poor, as Pitstop does have the makings of a fantastic festival.

3 Degrees of Separation were first up, and were asked to start 10 minutes earlier, and cut 20 minutes from their set. There was a wedding at the church at 4pm, and apparently you need a bit of quiet for those kinds of things. So that meant most people missed the band. I happened to turn up for the last song, “Goonbag,” as some guy jumped on the stage
wearing a chemical suit. Interesting…

Tangled Thoughts of Leaving played after the vows were exchanged. My tangled thoughts seriously counselled me to leave while this band played. I hate to ever say a band was truly terrible, but for the lack of a better term, they were terrible! This band is a fusion of metal and rock styles. Bits were death metal, bits were that new style of “emo” metal (where the singer whinges on for a fair bit), with a bit of Muse thrown into the mix. It was a particularly uncomfortable style- stick with the Muse bit I reckon.

The Flairz were running late, apparently their car broke down on the way. While waiting for them to turn up, the stage manager decided he had talent, grabbed a guitar and graced the crowd with his own musical offerings. There’s a reason why this man is the stage manager, and not one of the performers.

Thank crap the Flairz eventually turned up! They’re fantastic musicians, but there seemed to be something missing. I dunno- a few feet of height? Puberty? To be fair though, the group had more talent and performed better than most other bands on the bill. Most of the crowd didn’t know what to think, and neither did I.

Antistatic seem to have created a fair amount of buzz on the strength of their debut EP, Still Life Portrait. The fans showed how much they loved the band by throwing balls at them. I reckon there were a few bruises from that lot! The band plays that new emo metal style that I seem to be such a fan of…
Well, the schoolies seemed to like it.

Veterans of the Perth indie scene, Red Jezebel played a fantastic set. I haven’t seen them for a long while, and it’s great to see the pretentiousness stripped away. Red Jez were a lot of fun tonight and debuted a couple of new songs that are to be included on the new album. Look out for a fantastic new song, “Amsterdam”. They played one of the best sets of the night.

“Man can that chick wail or what?!” asked the multi-“talented” stage manager about Abbe from the Fuzz. I have to ask, why did this man continue to have access to the microphone? I had to agree with him though.
The schoolies ran out from the trees at the first husky screams of Abbe’s voice. The Fuzz blistered through a dirty set, blowing away the crowd, really getting them moving.

There was a guitar signed by all the acts on the bill and kindly donated by Music Force Mandurah raffled off. Congratulations to the lucky winner of the Ashton Accoustic. All funds raised went towards the Fairbridge Music Program in hosting similar events.

I decided to leave on a high note and left after the Fuzz. There were three other bands to play that night, Cog, Gyroscope and the Butterfly Effect, but my little indie being couldn’t stomach the thought of more metal rock.

Apparently the gig was cancelled soon after I left due to weather concerns. The place turned into a bit of a windy dust bowl and there were concerns about safety and the equipment. It was perhaps the last nail in the coffin for an otherwise promising event.

Live Review: Harry Smith CD Launch

Harry Smith, One Horse Town, Mo Wilson and the Drivers
Mojo’s Bar
Saturday 5th November 2005
Review by Rohan Hewson

Mo Wilson and the Drivers never seem to play anywhere on a bill except first. That’s OK though, their loungey, sometimes rock, music is well suited to kicking off a night. They were missing their bass player tonight, so a more stripped down set than usual, although there were still some piano flourishes from Mo. There was a fairly decent crowd even before they started playing, helped by the jazzy music coming from the DJ setting the party mood nicely.

One Horse Town have been referred to in the press a bit lately as swamp-rock… OK so ‘swamp’ is hardly a genre, but I’ll use it because nothing else quite fits. Rock? Definitely. Grunge? Probably. Country? Not really. Blues? Uhhh… Anyway, their unique sound comes mainly from the Rhodes piano of Ronan Charles, the same thing that made Seahorse Radio so unique a few years ago. He had no vocal mike but was every bit the frontman, a couple of times almost jumping up on top of the Rhodes. Recent WAM Rock Song of the Year winner ‘Information’ was probably the poppiest part of their set, whereas some of there other songs were quite raw and really rocked hard.

Harry Smith were the stars of tonight, this being the first of two launches for the ‘PreleighEP. They played to a similar sized crowd that greeted the first two bands. They’re yet another band that plays music not easy to classify; quirky, slightly dark rock / pop with the occasional strange time signature or chord structure… yeah, that should cover it. They had a heckler who yelled out ‘Titties!’ – one of the more interesting consequences of having a female bass player. The next heckle was ‘Stage birth!’ which could well have happened, the bass player also being several months pregnant – now there’s something you don’t see every day. Though there was to be no fifth member of Harry Smith saying hi to the world at Mojo’s this night.

There was a good atmosphere to this gig, so much so that when the band finished, a bunch of people started calling out for an encore. Often when bands come back for an encore, they’ve rehearsed a couple of extra songs and possibly even written them down on the set list, making the whole thing seem rather shallow and cynical. Not Harry Smith, however – they hadn’t counted on an encore, and ended up playing an old song they claimed not to have played for ages, although I could have sworn I heard it at the Hydey not that long ago, and considering they weren’t too optimistic about their ability to play it, they did it pretty well. Just like all their other songs, really.

Live Review: The Fuzz CD Launch @ Amplifier

The Fuzz ‘100’ Demons CD Launch
w/Kill Devil Hills, The Volcanics, Schvendes, The Arachnids, One Horse Town
Amplifier Bar
Friday 21st October, 2005
Review/Photos By Dylan McArdle

I love CD launches, they are great in that they bring together all sorts of weird and wonderful people – from the casual observer to the hardcore fan (and everyone in-between). There’s always so much more atmosphere and anticipation (towards the end of the night) that isn’t there in a regular gig. Friday night’s “100 Demons” CD Launch event from The Fuzz was no exception.

I’ve been looking forward to this launch since I saw the “larger than life” posters advertising this event some weeks ago. Having six bands on the bill and two stages, I can’t remember a bigger launch in Perth this year. I’ve been particularly interested in The Fuzz since they played excellent support sets to the touring Peabody at the beginning of this month.

The night kicked of with ONE HORSE TOWN performing an admirable job off filling the tough opening spot. Unashamedly, I’m a BIG fan of this band so I have nothing but praise for their performance. I guess having seen them quite a few times lately meant there were no real surprises in their set, though they did finish with a new track. The only real noticeable change is that Ronan is experimenting more and more with his keyboards as heard when they played “Information”. It was nice to see the small crowd that turned up early show some appreciation towards the end of the set.

With the bands playing back-to-back it was straight inside to here THE ARACHNIDS. With a “let’s rock” and an “oh yeah!” these guys turned up the volume to 11 and played they only way they know -fast and furious. This threesome have impressed me before with their combination of pure rock and roll with a hint of classic blues thrown in the mix. The lead singer has quite a deep voice which adds to the bluesy rhythm they bash out. In amongst all the fast paced tuned the guys managed to throw an slow on in for good measure. It was a shame more people were around to witness this performance.

I suppose the good reason why more people weren’t inside was that a large-ish crowd had built up to witness a very different style of music in the form of SCHVENDES. It’s hard to really pin-point why style of music these guys play, but let’s just say it’s unique an interesting. The small stage that was setup as you walk in was fairly cramped for a band that has a keyboard and a violin player. We went from one powerful performance to another, but this time it was the sultry vocals of Rachael Dease that sends shivers down my spine. It felt a bit weird seeing people dance to their music as I guess I just wanted to stand their and soak up all the atmosphere that echoed from the stage. “Small Mercies” is a track that highlight all that is good with Dease’s voice. I do like the drummers use of different type of drumsticks too, switching from simple percussion to that 50’s big-band sound.

The wild change in musical genres continued, with THE VOLCANICS taking centre stage. Along the lines of The Arachnids, they are loud and electrifying and I have never seen them put in a poor performance. Frontman John Phatouros is crazy and unpredictable in his delivery at the helm of the show and he makes the rest of the band look rather tame in comparison. He’s always jumping or headbanging or throwing the microphone stand around (which seems to be his favourite prop of choice). Once again, John gave an over eager photographer his marching orders mid way through the set. While some may label them as predictable, I don’t think I’ve seem them play since the “Light the Fuse” launches, so it was good to hear the familiar rocking tunes being belted out in the way only The Volcanics can do.

I think The KILL DEVIL HILLS must have the largest and loyalist following of any Perth band and as such it was a fight to get close to the small stage out back to witness them play. There was hardly an inch of free space of the stage left with all the members of the band and different instruments. I felt like I was at a country dance, because everyone was alive an on their feet. Time is often tight when there’s a large number of bands on the bill, and I think the Kill Devil Hills could have kept going on and on for much longer, much to the crowd’s delight. Not once but twice did the lights go out and the music stop at the clock approached midnight. The band gave into the wishes of the crowd and played what was almost an encore and with all the jumping and feet tapping it was a fitting finish to a popular and well received set.

It was quite possible that many punters could have ended their night on that (high) note, but quickly we were reminded why we were here tonight, and that was to witness THE FUZZ launch their fourth release ‘100 Demons’. Once again (as with the other bands on the main stage) it was a return to simple but powerful formula that is rock ‘n’ roll. Although not all eyes were on stage (as two girls were madly pashing away much to the delight of a number of young men), those who keep their eyes and ears pointed forward witnessed a performance worthy of a CD launch. It was a night where female vocalists came to the fore, and Abbe May is certainly amongst the cream of the crop. She gave 110% percent with her vocals, she jumped up and down the stage like a woman possessed and she drunk beer than punters gave her. Some bands look out of place on a larger stage or you know that they’ll never reach the giddy heights of a CD launch again, but The Fuzz looked right at home in front of the big crowd. As I have said before, this four piece actually look like they’re enjoying every minute of being in the limelight and that was the case once again tonight. If the first forty or so minutes of the set didn’t blow you away with the power and guts of the band, the “come back for more” encore (that they squeezed in before the 1am finish) just left enough of a taste in my mind to want to see The Fuzz again.

This was a launch of epic proportions and with the year fastly drawing to a close, it will take a lot to top a night like this.

Live Review: Ash Grunwald

Ash Grunwald
The Ravenswood Hotel
Sunday 23 October 2005
Review by Susan Clark

A Sunday Session – it’s the great Aussie tradition that brings together hot summer days, cheap cold beer, music and friends.

This week at the Ravenswood (The Ravo) saw Ash Grunwald take the stage to supply the music with the weather perfect for the occasion. And what a great combination it was, with the crowd all sitting in the beer garden, on the banks of the Murray River, listening to some Delta blues.

The gig started early- 6pm- Andrew Winton was first up in support. Winton is more of a traditional blues player with his amazing grungy and powerful voice; he managed to hit those all important high and low notes, and kept a sense of humour about it. The crowd really warmed up to Winton’s acoustic slide, and as a reward he covered Aka Daka’s version of ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’ to roaring approval. ACDC is a pretty safe bet with the surf and thong clad Ravo crowd.

2005 has been a stellar year for Grunwald– everything has just fallen into his lap. His debut album, ‘I Don’t Believe’ bagged Album of the Year at the 2005 Australian Blues Awards in February. In May he scored the chair to present JJJ’s Roots ‘n’ All program. More recently he was acknowledged by the mainstream with an Aria nomination (in the Best Blues and Roots category). Other nominees included The Beautiful Girls, Jeff Lang, The Waifs and Mia Dyson- pretty stiff competition.

But that didn’t hold Grunwald back tonight. Sitting on his bass drum, Grunwald pulled out a beautiful Dobro guitar and quietly plucked away. The crowd paused to listen, and then abandoned their conversations- how Johnno’s ute had a more powerful engine in the 70s than Stew’s piece of crap he brought brand new the other week- and the girls comparing truckers caps, flannies and the colour of their supermarket bought thongs (I’m not joking)!

All the critical acclaim and awards heaped upon Grunwald is warranted. He is an amazing talent, and is a generous stage performer- he fed off the audience. It was a stompin’ old night. It was delta blues with a whomping beat.
Between each song Grunwald would talk to the audience, goading us, bantering with us, loving us. And we all loved him back.

He played for an hour and a half and still had the crowd screaming for more. We were lucky, he came back to the stage for an encore. Grunwald apologised if at all he seemed a little distracted tonight. He’d been hoping for a phone call that didn’t come; The call to tell him who’d won the Aria tonight.

“Who needs a stinking ARIA when I’ve got such a lovely audience,” he crooned.