Friday, May 18, 2012

This is what we wanted.

Too tall to join the band...
The main reason we went across to Sydney was to see The Chords, very probably the best band to emerge out of the English mod-revival era. Was it really 30 years ago? Anyhow, The Chords weren't really mods, and didn't present themselves as such. Well, not as obviously as some bands, let's say. They released one cracking album and a handful of decent singles before falling apart in true rock and roll fashion.
Older and, quite possibly, wiser, they have reformed and have been playing occasional gigs here and there for a little while. At the beginning of May they arrived on Australian shores for the first time.
The two Sydney shows comprised a great Saturday night gig at a place called Notes, supported by Australian mod legends Division 4 and new boys from Perth, Hurricane Fighter Plane. All three bands were fabulous. I felt so lucky to be part of it.
With only one album and few other tracks in their canon, it was easy to anticipate The Chords' setlist. The crowd got what they wanted, a set brimming with melody, mayhem and a modicum of middle-aged modernism. There was no Spinal Tap-inspired jazz odyssey, although we were treated to the new single, Another Thing Coming. As expected, the highlight of the evening was Maybe Tomorrow. Rousing, to say the least.
The second show was on board a Sydney Harbour cruise ship, and it went off big style, despite a surprisingly low attendance. The locals should probably be ashamed of themselves. It didn't seem to worry the band or the punters though. Hurricane Fighter Plane once again provided the support, although they went on second. Rumour has it that The Chords wanted to play first so that they could party with the rest of us as the boat took in the sights of beautiful Sydney Harbour. It was much the same setlist, and was met with the same degree of approval.

On the Friday night we'd seen a short set from POPE - Chris Pope's band when he's not a Chord. An unexpected bonus! The Mayday Dreamers also played, and kept us entertained with a mixture of mod and power pop classics.

As with most great times, the weekend ended too soon. Within 18 hours of stepping off the cruise, I was back in Adelaide, reflecting on a great trip east. Such is life.

I brought back some great memories, albums and singles by The Chords and POPE, a DVD, a t-shirt and a gig poster. I'm just a big kid really.

Bravo The Chords, come back soon!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Gadding about in Sydney

During the daylight hours of our Sydney trip, we behaved like proper tourists. We walked across the bridge, hung around the Opera House, and went to Luna Park. We also strolled, in beautiful autumnal weather, through the Botanic Gardens, visited Mrs Macquarie's Chair, and spent some time at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
We caught a ferry over to Manly, enjoyed a wander to the markets, had a coffee, and came back a few hours later.
We had some good meals, and a few pints. One particularly welcome thirst quencher went down at The Orient, a pub I'd visited the best part of 20 years' ago. Twenty. I'm getting old, of that there is no doubt. I had another Guinness at "Sydney's Oldest Pub", Fortune of War. They had a fellow there singing and playing crowd-pleasers on his acoustic guitar. It reminded me of the job that awaits me on Great Southern Rail.
We stood on the 45th floor of our hotel and admired the views.Because we could.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mods Mayhem 2012 - Sydney

Sydney is a great place to visit. Like London, you can entertain yourself for days on end without really having to dip into the coffers too deeply. There's so much to see and do for free, provided you are fit enough to walk. Also like London, it is very easy to drop shedloads of cash, should you be in the mood...
We had four days and nights up there last week, combining the Sydney Mods Mayday events, a couple of gigs of my own, and some easygoing tourism.

The trip was book-ended with Yours Truly performances. The first was a Thursday show at the Kogarah Hotel, where Ken and I played a 40-minute set sometime towards the end of the evening. We'd had our regulation one rehearsal, and it was encouraging to see how well our songs held together on stage. I think we went OK; the punters seemed to like us.
Our second show was on Sunday at the Union Hotel in Enmore, where we finished off a three band performance afternoon. Steph Miller's Winterstation and the Urban Guerillas - Ken's other band - preceded us, and rocked the place. We were just as noisy, but without the drums and bass. At least for the first part. Sensing that the weekend revelers wanted some more rock and roll, we invited the other Guerillas up for a four-song set that featured a rendition of Werewolves of London which went down well. I also played Paul Weller's Wild Wood, for the first time ever. It can be a bit underwhelming when your cover versions are the high points of the evening, but such is life.

Despite my fears, my guitar made it to Sydney and back via QANTAS and Virgin without getting smashed up. Which was nice.

Yours Truly have now played Sydney. Tomorrow, the world!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Visions of John...

I went to see The Bootleg Beatles play the other night. I've been seeing their ads in the back pages of Mojo and Uncut for years now, and I've read that they are supposed to be the best Beatles' tribute band I am ever likely to see.
Guess what? They were.
I've seen the Beatnix, The Fab Four and quite a few others over the years; all good, but these guys were better.
The first half of the show concentrated, logically, on the early Beatles, and reminded me of the 1964 Melbourne Festival Hall show. Without the screaming.
As I watched, I became lost in the performance. I knew I wasn't actually watching The Beatles, but I forgot I was watching a tribute band, if that makes sense. It was more like watching a big screen video of The Beatles. Between songs, it was all too obvious that this wasn't them, despite the banter being pretty good. But while they were playing, though, I was caught up in the whole thing.
The second half of the show dealt with the so-called 'studio years' and, although most of the songs were excellent, I didn't feel the same connection. I think it's because we have a wealth of early live footage available to watch and become familiar with, while there are only a few film clips and one rooftop concert covering the second half of The Beatles' career. This gives us a more flexible mental template upon which to apply performances of the early songs, whereas the later stuff has only ever been seen/heard once, if you get what I am saying. It makes nuance more congruent and tolerable in the presentation of the songs from those heady days of Beatlemania.

I'll shut up now before I mention aeolian cadence...