Reviews from the crowd !
Radio Birdman gigs
New Christs gigs
Radio Birdman secret warm up gig for the 97' tour on Sunday Dec 29th, 1996
by Tim Johnson.
Saw Radio Birdman a few hours ago doing a warm up gig for the tour. It was great, the band was in full flight.
The songs were (might have missed the 1st song) then
In that order with the last 3 as an encore.
- Smith &Wesson,
- Man with Golden Helmet,
- Walk the Earth,
- Crying Sun,
- Iskender Time,
- Anglo Girl,
- Dark Surprise,
- Hanging On,
- Do the Pop,
- Hand of Law,
- Route 66,
- What Gives,
- New Race
The gig was at the Iron Duke Hotel in Alexandria (Sydney)
Radio Birdman gig at the Prince of Wales in Melbourne Jan 2th, 1997
by Eddie Fung.
Radio Birdman hit that stage pretty well spot on 11.30 pm. Everyone looks a bit older - either wider or with less hair - except for one man. The real Doctor ROCK Deniz Tek . How does he do it? Only a hint of grey but otherwise pretty much the same as the first time I saw him in February 1977. Only instead of playing to 50 people (at most) supporting a local Melbourne band this time they're headlining at the only Melbourne gig of the 'quick as a flash while we're on holidays' tour.
The gig was only for 3RRR subscribers and this may have slowed ticket sales but nevertheless it's a sellout and pretty well guaranteed to have the crowd fawning on the band.
OK, the songlist:
Deniz has tuning problems with his tried and true Epiphone and has to change to his Rickenbacker every few numbers (don't worry fans he hasn't turned into Roger McGuinn yet) but for the most part it's the Epiphone (yeh hup!!!).
- Hand Of Law
- Smith & Wesson Blues
- Do The Pop
- Descent Into The Maelstrom
- Anglo Girl Desire
- Burn My Eye
- Crying Sun
- Alone In the Endzone
- Hanging On
- Murder City Nights
- Love Kills
- Another newie ???
- Walk The Earth
- iskender Time
- Aloha Steve & Danno
- New Race
Prior to the first encore Pip Hoyle remarks that he's actually from Melbourne and that the crowd have done the city proud here. (As an aside Melbourne was never a Birdman city in their heyday and was never as influenced by the Detroit sound as Sydney was. Believe you me this city difference is like comparing New York punk with LA Punk. Melbourne was , in the late 70's far more influenced by the Brits than Iggy). I digress. The first encore:
The crowd roar for more ! They get it :
- Man With Golden Helmet
- More Fun
- What Gives
Then it's over. About 1.15 am.
- TV Eye
- Monday Morning Gunk
See ya in the next Chrissie holidays maybe fellas !
Radio Birdman gig at
Central Coast Leagues Club, Gosford, January 9th 1997
Selinas Coogee Bay Hotel, Sydney, January 10 1997
by Craig Regan.
It's Gosford Leagues on a Thursday night and there's not a poster in sight for tonight's gig.
Radio Birdman are playing the biggest beer barn on the Central Coast, a former weekend holiday region for Sydneysiders about 50 minutes north of the city.
As grey-haired pensioners shuffle out of the downstairs loungue bar after
their early evening meat raffles and cheap meals, the town's reputation as a retirement home provoke thoughts that it's an odd venue for a Birdman show.
The Central Coast certainly lacks the tradition of producing (or hosting) great bands of industrial cities Newcastle to the north or Wollongong to the south, which were both stop-offs on last year's Radios On Tour.
Although it's also close enough to Sydney to drive to on a weekday night but I (correctly) think most fans will wait until the weekend show at the
traditional rock pit of Selinas.
Upstairs in the half-full auditorium there's a buzz about another band
touring after a lengthy break - Midnight Oil - who played a well-received show here last week.
It's ironic that the Radios are following them a week later considering how much the Oils took from the Birdman legacy, while at the same time denying any influence.
Support band Front End Loader is first up and while they're tight and intense, it's hard to see why they bother having two guitarists when, for most of the night, they play the same thing. I want to like them but I can't help thinking Helmet do the same thing, only better.
Radio Birdman saunters onto the stage in front of the enormous red and black flag at 10pm and waste no time cranking into Smith and Wesson Blues.
Rooms like this are potentially a sonic disaster (like their show in the
abominable Go Pavillion at last year's Sydney Big Day Out), but tonight's mix is transparent and focussed.
Close to the front with an uncrowded view, it's easy to see why the Birdmen have inspired so many imitators as they roll relentlessly forward through Crying Sun, Iskender Time and onetime show closer Do the Pop.
It's all in the attitude and feel as Deniz Tek and Chris Masuak lean into the music, wringing feedback out of their overdriven Marshalls.
Occasionally rusty last time out, Ron Keeley's right on the money and he and Warwick Gilbert are like tentpegs, holding down the framework nicely as the rest of the band bounces back and forth around the beat.
Once the junior partner, Chris takes two-thirds of the lead breaks and is sharp without over-playing. His contribution on Revelation is a stand-out.
Rob Younger's obviously taking care of himself tonight with half the contents of a (solitary) bottle of beer he grasps for most of the set ending up on the front-row of dancers.
Pip Hoyle is nicely placed in the mix and his washes of sound really fill out some of the songs that weren't keyboard-oriented on record.
A vibrant Aloha Steve and Danno and then New Race round off the set nicely and it's time to grab liquid reinforcement before the inevitable five-song encore. Snake makes an appearance along with Monday Morning Gunk and TV Eye (which segues into LA Woman).
So to Selinas on Friday night. The beachside pub is a less frequent hang-out these days for those of us with flecks of grey hair, a family and a mortgage, but it's still the favoured Sydney venue for name bands playing "once only" club-sized shows.
We give Front End Loader a miss and head for the front bar. The gig's not a sell-out as it lacks the "event" status of last year's reunion, but it's still respectably full.
That 1996 gig was one of those memorable, sticky summer nights when sweat dripped from the low section of ceiling at the back of the room, and sales of bottled water rivalled that of canned beer as hoarse fans struggled to replace fluids.
Support act Wayne Kramer primed the crowd with a searing, flashy set which ended with him introing a "sensitive love song" by summoning the fast-filling pit with the call: "Kick Out The Jams, Motherfuckers!"
An appreciative Rob Younger and Friends looked on approvingly and applauded from the VIP balcony before themselves laying waste to the place with a fiery, ragged set many fans had waited years for
A fortnight short of a year later and it's midnight when Smith and Wesson opens proceedings.
The result is, again, instant madness in the mosh pit.
We watch from the relative security of a raised platform halfway to the back of the room which gives a great view, even if the peculiar accoustics of Selinas cut out some of the top register of the PA.
If anything Birdman's in even hotter form than last night, playing a near identical set with seemingly more purpose for their hometown crowd.
A subdued Deniz again cedes most of the leads to Chris while Pip proves he's no fashion clothes horse with an ensemble of black shirt, red tie and matching baseball cap.
My wife notes an uncanny resemblance between Rob and John Malkovitch as he sheds his black jacket and shock-dances his way around the stage.
The songs gel and there's a sense of momentum that can't be denied.
New Race caps the set proper before the encores start.
TV Eye is spat out, mutates into Looking at You, turns back into itself and crashes to a finish before it's all over, far too soon.
A writer from one of Sydney's two daily newspapers who reviewed last year's gig called it "historical rather than historic" and called Birdman "simplistic" and "derivative" - a rich call considering he slavishly apes the "I'm-too-hip" critiques churned out by NME in England.
He ignored them this time around...and that probably suited band and fans alike.
The Ritualism Tour proved that Radio Birdman did - and do - shit on anything else around at the moment.
Let's hope they realise as much and juggle their other commitments to
produce new and worthwhile work for years to come.
Radio Birdman at Selinas - 10th january 1997
by Tim Johnson.
Saw the band again at Selinas (10/1/97) - their only Sydney gig. They did
all the old songs and one new one, Walk the Earth.The sound was huge and the music like it used to be, with some added complexities. As my cousin
said after the concert "that's the best band I've seen".
As I say : that's the best band i've never saw ! [Didier]
Radio Birdman at Selinas - 10th january 1997
by Shane Johns.
Okay, a short review.
The support acts were reasonable, but a band with a becapped drummer (ie Fini
Scad) is a bit of a worry. Reminds me of Cheap Trick.
Anyway, as soon as the Birdies started the mosh was on. To me this is a bad
thing, as all the moves I'd copped from the dancers in the "Steve and Danno"
clip were wasted as I was too busy trying to keep from being shoved in the back.
Why people enjoy pushing others around instead of keeping to themselves and
actually WATCHING the band is beyond me.
Anyway, back to the music. The songs were more intense than last time around,
and I had a lot more fun that I did when I saw them at the Palais in Newcastle
in '96, where I was too busy checking on the progress of my cassette boot to
dance and where I wore earplugs for the first and last time!
I made the mistake of going for a drink just as the encore started (actually, it
was a good thing or I would have passed out) because I lost my place In front of
the stage just behind the mosh and I had to watch the rest from a really bad
position side of stage.
Merchandise was good... I picked up a natty two toned shirt. Pity they didn't
have any button badges!
Radio Birdman gig at Selinas Coogee Bay Hotel, Sydney, Australia
10th January 1996
by Richard Bennett.
We got to Selinas at about 9:30pm, just as Fini Scad were finishing their set. Two words, cock rock.
Front End Loader came on at about 10:30pm, and impressed the hell out of me. I hadn't seen or heard them in a long while, and was shocked to hear a mix of old style Loader and newer metal, grindcore and Jesus Lizard style chops. These guys will go far, they're tight, like VERY tight, and certainly know how to play.
It seemed an eternity before Radio Birdman came on. The stage set up was continually checked and re-checked by the crew, along with the continual chants from the crowd, "Birdman! Birdman! Birdman!" While last year's reformation turned out to be a fairly subdued affair from the audience's point of view, with most crowds treating the gigs as a spectacle, this year was simply fans of the band and their music, with all ages from teens to middle aged.
Gone were most of last year's stage props, leaving only the large red and black logo backdrop, and a smaller one hanging off Pip's keyboard stand.
As the lights went down and the band came on, the crowd went mad, and for the first four or so songs, the mosh up front was more intense than the five Birdman gigs I'd seen last year put together. The band must've realised the mistakes of last year, when the songs were all played too slowly, with various mistakes and timing problems, making it hard to regenerate their original intensity, let alone the
intensity of the Radio Birdman myth! But tonight was different.
Mid-way through the set, What Gives? was pounded out at lightning speed, with a brief slowdown during the bridge, then back into last verse, again at full speed. Rob's comment? "Warwick wrote that," with both Rob and Warwick grinning from ear to ear. My favourite song by the way.
It was good to see Aloha Steve and Danno moving closer and closer to their definitive album version. Having seen Chris play the solo on Deniz' solo tour back in 1992, and Deniz' half hearted attempt during last year's Birdman gigs, he's now almost got it right. Certainly it's the song most of the crowd recognises, yet surprisingly probably the least similar to the recorded version, and for me never really approaching the intensity of the record.
Speaking of Chris, he was actually quite restrained this time, again last year careering off into solos whenever he could, sometimes ruining songs in the process. This time he and Deniz seemed to have the solo tradeoffs down to an art. Perhaps Chris was given a talking to.
For the encore, they must've played five or six songs, including Snake, which I only saw them do once last year, and they left out Dark Surprise, which was disappointing.
The final song of the night, was TV Eye, this time drifting into a version of Looking at you, by the MC5, and back into TV Eye. A mate that was with me tells me Rob even quoted some Beach Boy songs in the process. Chris found it hard to restrain himself, with Deniz giving him some dirty looks during the slow parts, but all up a great show closer.
Overall, the mix was much better, with Pip well down from last year. The last thing you need in a full on guitar rock song is some cheesey electronic piano coming in over the lead break. However, the piano orientated songs, such as Man with Golden Helmet, were perfectly mixed, with the piano lead and backing brilliantly balanced with the rest of the band. There were concerns after Deniz' remix of The Visitors album last year, where Pip was mixed up from everyone else, but again they seem to have learned their lesson, equally so with Rob and Chris' mix of the new Radio Birdman live album, Ritualism.
The band seemed to enjoy the night as well. It was good to see both Rob and Warwick in good moods, and Ron's now traditional rant into Chris' microphone at the end of the gig, which is always turned off so no one hears what he has to say.
Only Deniz seemed in a mood, with nothing to say all night, perhaps proven by the fact that he changed TV Eye from being a second encore, to simply playing it at the end of their one and only encore.
On the way out, I apparently walked in front of Kent Steedman (from The Celibate Rifles), who was also in the audience, cutting off his conversation with someone else. You'd think Kent would have had enough of Deniz, having spent the last month or so touring in his band, The Deniz Tek Group. Maybe he felt obliged, considering he failed to turn up one night, letting Deniz prove to the audience that he didn't actually need a second guitarist.
The crowd went mad, Radio Birdman played the best I've ever seen them, most of them were in good moods, and I cut across Kent Steedman's conversation. A good night was had by all, and we were out into the slimy rain drenched streets of Coogee at around 2am.
If you haven't seen Radio Birdman live, grab a copy of Ritualism. The sound quality is not great, but it does capture the intensity of the band, probably even to the extent of the myth itself. High praise indeed for a band with only two albums, and now celebrating their 20th birthday.
Deniz e-mailed us some precisions : First, thanks for taking the time
to see the band and report on the gig. But: I never played Aloha Steve
at any of my solo performances (except once: Tolentino, Italy, in
1995). So ... perhaps he saw Chris do it in the Porkers.
Anyway, I don't choose to play it just like the record, because I like
to vary it for each gig. I see no point in gratuitous repetition.
The New Christs - '97 European tour
'97 tour : New Christs / Panadolls - Brookvale Hotel - April 12, 1997
by Craig Regan.
The New Christs have an idiosyncratic way of doing things that seemingly fly in the face of normal commercial considerations.
Consider the following: They play once in a blue moon in their home town, with negligible publicity and an even smaller profile.
When they do play - and on my reckoning it's the first time in nearly a year - they do so at a pub a long way out of town.
They bill the gig as an album launch and there's not a CD in sight, even though there are enough attentive punters on hand to suggest quite a few copies could have been sold.
Even the venue - done up to resemble a tacky country and western bar with corrugated iron trimmings hanging from the roof and wooden log seats littering the floor - is surrealistic, to say the least.
This is a band that just doesn't do things conventionally.
Determined to prove they feel the same way, it seems, are the Panadolls who take to the stage wearing silly hats.
They kick off their night with the Jim Carroll Band's People Who Died. It's apparently their last gig with this line-up for the time being and the little I see is OK.
Support act over, it's time for the New Christs who obviously rehearse a lot in between infrequent gigs because their opening song, Comin' Apart, is breathtakingly tight.
The set is mostly made up of songs from Lower Yourself with We Have Landed, When, the title track, Jenny and Annalise stand-outs.
Rob Younger is in tremendous form, animated and obviously relishing the chance to sing the new material live.
This is no big budget outing for the band despite the "CD launch" tag attached to the gig. Better to skimp on production and save your money for the airfares.
The cheap and crappy little PA is suffering no small level of overdrive with the meters peaking well and truly in the red, but the mix is outstandingly transparent and punchy in a room full of acoustic challenges.
Guitarists Mark Wilkinson and Al Creed (backing up after the Panadolls' set) mesh nicely and the band sounds fresh and dynamic.
Big Al has striking stage presence and will be a hit with European fans.
Encore time and the band cranks out a savage In State and Circus of Sour to be joined by a bespectacled midget who stands in front of Wilkinson at stage left and thrashes about, playing air guitar and looking very like that similarly proportioned American entertainer of the '70s, Paul Williams.
That the band didn't kick him off added a weird touch to a strange but satisfying night, one made even better by the fact that, thanks to my wife, I didn't have to drive home.
Europe's in for a treat. The New Christs rock.
'97 tour : New Christs - Ris Orangis (F) / Le Plan - April 29th, 1997
I took my car and drove 500km. Arriving 18h and the guys are all there, eating before the show. Rob is doing an interview. All are nice guys and we do the Christophe
Colomb thing, exchanging presents !
The guest band are the Maniacs in a new power trio formation. Impressive and compact show. Then the New Christs. "We have landed" starts and for more than one hour, i'm splashed on the wall. They played a new "born out of time" version . The introduction is spoken and it took time for me to recognize it ! Great, great. Rob moves really well, swampy and intense. The 2 guitars fits really well and they all seems to enjoy playing.
My memory for that show is a little mixed-up and just like a giant bang. A big hand took me and let me fall at the end. It was my first time live with the New Christs, and it was like a one hour orgasm (I guess !). The sound was not so good, because of a strange place for the sound board (3 meters higher than the scene !). I also met Stéphane Saunier (he used to run Sonics and Closer records and those 2 labels put me into Aussie r'n'r) and it was fun.
'97 tour : New Christs - Berne (CH) / ISC - May 1st, 1997
This time it's only 350km ! Second time. The surprise is over and the show is really intense. You have to see Rob thinking quietly and writing the song list just before the show. No routine, just the feeling of the moment. The show was LOUD (it was loud also at Le Plan). Really. but the sound was better. Charles, the Swiss sound guy is behind the knobs. Not so much people for that show, and too few left at the end. But they do 2 encore, and "the seeker".
'97 tour : New Christs / Lombego Surfers - La Chaux-de-Fonds (CH) / Bikini Test - May 3rd, 1997
by Dario Bollini.
After a 300+ km trip from Milan to the very north of Swiss, in the last twinkling of daylight we finally reached our goal: BIKINI TEST, a dark and funny club lost in the green of the outskirts of La-Chaux-de-Fonds.
Tonight we were going to see a living legend: Mr. Rob Younger and the NEW CHRISTS straight from the Antipodes, promoting their last and powerful record, LOWER YOURSELF.
At 23.00 the local guys LOMBEGO SURFERS entered the stage and started to hit the crowd (not so huge, to be honest) with their interesting mixture of surf and punk rock (!!!): the four of them rocked and rolled during a 45 minutes set, warming the audience up.
Just the time to change the drum set and to carry in guitars and beers (!!) and, exactly ten minutes past midnight, the NEW CHRISTS got on stage: a thrill ran through many backbones watchin' Rob Younger approach the mike and starting out with FUZZ EXPO.
The band sounded raw and savage from the very beginning, with the two guitarists Mark Wilkinson and Al Creed riffing and soloing continuously and the powerful rhythm section formed by Pete Kelley and Chris Houllemare giving the right sustain to their high energy rock 'n' roll.
But the real center of the night was "his blondness" Rob Younger: twenty years after his first appearance in the rock scene he's still here with his psychosurf-like moves and, most of all, his talented and ductile voice.
The gig slipped away easily towards a lot of new songs (HERE & NOW, LOWER YOURSELF, I COME CHEAP, JENNY, ANNALISE, WE HAVE LANDED and BIG CITY) and, in spite of a lot of requests from the audience (I SAW GOD and NO NEXT TIME in particular), no old tunes were played but four excerpts from DISTEMPER (COMING APART, BURNING OF ROME, LOVE'S UNDERGROUND and CIRCUS OF SOUR).
During all the show, Rob seemed very disappointed with the PA quality, kickin' the amp and callin' for help from the service.
After 45 minutes the band saluted and left the stage, but the crowd yelled and asked for more, so the five returned and offer three more songs, taken from the LOWER YOURSELF BONUS E.P.
In conclusion, a good show but the cold audience and some physical problems (cough and cold) seemed to contain Rob's performance while the rest of the band supported the leader in the right way.
The only thing that disappointed a little all the audience was the choice to not play the VERY old stuff: maybe next time, Mr. Younger??
'97 tour : New Christs - Bologna (I) / Il Covo - May 16th, 1997
by Savioli Gabriele.
I couldn't believe it but yesterday night at half past midnight the band came in. Rob Younger is great and the band plays in a really hard and fast way! For sure, one of the best concert of this year, and one of my best concert ever. Unfortunately, there were not so many people (about 100), but you could see in the eyes of everybody that it was an event! I also met old friends and we said to each other :"we couldn't miss it!". The band played the following songs:
OK, That's all, thank you for keeping up a site like this!
- We have landed
- Words fail me
- Big City
- Love's underground
- No love again today
- Born out of time (What a great version!!!!!)
- The burning of Rome
- Truly unaware
- I come cheap
- Lower yourself
- Woe betide
- Circus of sour
- Party time
- The seeker
'97 tour : Strasbourg (F) / L'écureuil - May 18th, 1997
The band stopped by Strasbourg for a day off. Wine road, resting time and babbling. Memories for 10 years and a ton of 7" kindly signed by the guys (even my Minutemen 7" signed by John !).
But the best thing (musical one) was that : friends (Turbolove) were playing that night in a small bar. Mark, Peter, Al and Charles went with us to see them. After the Turbolove show, the guys went on stage for a jam ! Charles on drums, Peter on Bass and 2 guitars. After 3 songs, Peter was back on drums and Al on bass ! They played Dead Boy, Slave Girl (oh my god !!), Search and destroy (With Joel Turbolove singer singing with them), Circus of sour, 2 from lower yourself (i don't remeber wich one as everything was crazy at that time). The guitars were signed (even the drumsticks !). So the secret Strasbourg gig was the best of all the shows. Ha ha ha ha !
Thoses guys are making an exhausting tour, and they take pleasure playing in a small bar for fun !
A funny thing happened when they started to play. It was on the Turbolove amps and guitars. My friend said : "what is that sound ? where does it comes from ? How do you do that ?"; Response was "crank up the bastard to 10 and play!!!". My opinion is that there is something on the fingers ! It was a real crazy night.
'97 tour : New Christs - Heidelberg (D) / Schwimmbad - May 22th, 1997
This time it's only 150 km ! The best show for the sound. The louder too. Small venue, 60 people and a great fever. 3 encore, that's what i call respect for the public. I've also done an interview with Rob. We are now waiting for the next tour ! Come back guys !
New Christs - Sydney (Aus) / Northpoint Tavern & Bizzos - January 1999
by John McPharlin.
There's been a lot of talk on this list about the diminishing number of venues (and great bands) compared with the good old days of our youth when there were a million great bands playing every night... and the beer tasted better and with only sixpence in your pocket you could have a great night out, a packet of smokes, a couple of hamburgers, a root, enough beer to make you chunder until dawn and yet still have enough money left over for the tram home... Well no matter how many bands were headlining on any given
night, you could usually only get to see one, which means that so as long as there's one great band playing around town, what difference does it make how many other bands are also playing (or these days, not playing) if you wouldn't have gone to see them anyway? Especially if that one band is the New Christs.
At the Northpoint Tavern on Friday, the evening started with the Mutated Noddies playing to about 12 people, at least 4 of whom were clearly close personal friends of theirs. Their music was listenable without sounding overly inspired. I'd call it garage/power pop (with the emphasis on the power rather than the pop), if I had any clear idea of what these terms really mean.
They were followed by Nunchuka Superfly. This is the third time I've seen them and they must be wearing down my resistance because I'm starting to like what they do. Of course the fact that this time their sound levels were set for a venue smaller than the SCG was also a factor in their favour. During their set more people drifted in and the odd thing was that many of the faces seemed familiar, but for the most part I couldn't place whether I'd seen them playing in other bands or just in other audiences.
However some faces are unmistakable, such as Ron Peno & Simon Cox (pity they didn't drag John Hoey along as well - if he'd brought his keyboard he could have reprised some of his work on "Lower Yourself") and the singer from Asteroid B612 (whose name currently escapes me).
And so to the reason for being there: the New Christs. By the time they came on stage, it looked like there were about 80 - 100 people present, which is disappointing for a band of the New Christs' stature but not bad considering the minimal publicity (many "secret" gigs get more promotion than both of this weeks shows combined). As they were starting up, Rob Younger said something about them being under prepared, but they must have had some rehearsals recently because they sure didn't sound like a band
that has only performed publicly three times in the last year. As with the two gigs at the Iron Duke last year, they stuck mainly to songs from "Woe Betide" and "Lower Yourself" (plus "Pedestal" and "The Seeker") and showed once again that Mr Younger has still got not only the urge to produce the intense, passionate rock we expect of him, but also the ability to deliver it. In this he is aided and abetted by a pretty awesome collection of talent on the stage with him. On top of that, the really good news is that this time there were some new songs in the set as well and those new songs sounded great. One in particular has an insistent riff that reminds me of Iggy Pop's "Five Foot One". Hopefully this may mean a new record in the not too distant future... After they'd finished I took a look at the set list (someone beat me to it, but I took a gander over her shoulder) and saw that one of the new songs is called "Remorse". I was just scanning down the list to see what the other two were when some drunken arsehole spilled his glass all over me (oh the joys of pub rock!) and I'm afraid I lost interest after that.
Going to the Northpoint Tavern on Friday was a last minute decision, as I'd always intended to make the pilgrimage out to Caringbah on Saturday, since Northpoint's acoustics and/or sound system were pretty poor both times I'd been there before - to see Died Pretty and Fur/Ratcat (I went to see Fur, but Ratcat were surprisingly good for a band I'd always dismissed as pure teeny bopper/Countdown fodder). In fact, the New Christs got a far better sound out of the place than either of those two shows, but rather than satiating my craving for their music, it left me even keener than ever to trek out to Bizzos to catch them again.
Many thanks to whoever posted those directions to Bizzos during the recent great suburb debate (I'd suggest that "flame war" might have been over stating the situation a little - "brief but frank and robust exchange of views" would be closer to the mark (no pun intended...)). I was doing fine right up to the final "Turn left at the railway station". Unfortunately it wasn't until I was a couple of suburbs further on that I realised that I must have missed that turning. Having gone back and cruised through Caringbah again, I proved that the first time was no mere accident by missing the same turn off a second time... All of which meant I arrived in time for only the last two songs by the Killer Klowns, which was a pity because they sounded pretty good for an opening act. In particular, they wound up with a convincing version of "The Passenger" that showed they'd been absorbing all the right influences.
The second band for the night was Crown, who played about two chords and then promptly had equipment problems for nearly fifteen minutes, although they didn't allow this to stop them playing more than their allotted 40 minutes when they finally got started again. The highlight of their set was a brace of songs performed by a guest singer/guitarist whose name I didn't catch. They'd be well advised to make that guy a permanent member, because those two songs were far and away better than the rest of their set.
Next up were Mush, featuring fellow Divine Rites lister and part-time proto-guitar god Mark Lewis. Dion, their bass player, left the crowd in no doubt that supporting the New Christs was a big moment for the band and
they had some good ideas musically, but lost their way a little bit during some of the set before hitting their stride towards the end. They were however still a step up from Crown to the ears of this punter.
As so once again to the stars of the show. By the time they came on stage there were about 120-140 people in the audience. Unlike the last 3 times I've seen them, they chose not to open with "We Have Landed" and I wish I could tell you which one they did open with, but my mind's gone blank. Once again they stuck mainly to what you might call their "New Testament" plus two of the new songs (I'm assuming that it really was 3 new songs on Friday night, but since my knowledge of their back catalogue is limited to the "Born Out of Time" compilation, the third one may have been an oldie that I'm not familiar with, although they all sounded new) and kept the oldies to a minimum. We did however get an interesting "Born Out of Time" which
segued into "Shakin' All Over" and back again. Rob Younger seemed quite relaxed and even entered into a little repartee with the crowd (from his lyrics and some of the interviews he's given, it's easy to get a picture of him as a complete Dr Doom, but he does have a sense of humour, albeit somewhat cynical, as is evident for example in his press release for "Woe Betide" on Didier's web site). Bizzos is quite a good live venue and the band was probably sharper than the night before (although Mr Wilkinson did favour us with an impromptu reprise of the opening to "Jenny" a couple of songs after they'd played it for the first time...), but for some reason I probably enjoyed the slightly edgier first night a little more, although it's really neck and neck.
I'd like to close with a brief discussion concerning violence to punters by bouncers. Quite frankly, there wasn't enough of it. On Friday night, some clown kept heckling Rob (you're past it, you've got no balls, why
don't you give up...), but if someone had dropped him right at the start when he tried to make off with a copy of the set list (normally a band doesn't mind punters souveniring a set list, but the proper etiquette is to
wait until they've finished playing the songs on it, not grab it the moment the roadie turns his back before the band has even come out onto the stage) then it would have made for a much smoother evening. Similarly on Saturday night, some halfwit got up onto the stage and hung around getting in everyone's way until the song finished and Christian Houllemare had a free hand with which to shove him back off the stage, to the jeers of his drunken mates and the obvious relief of the rest of the audience.
One final point. Taking the last four shows together, they've played almost all their recent (nineties) stuff except: "These Rags", "Only a Hole" and "The Way You Suck Me Down". Does someone in the band have something against these three songs, because I sure don't?