Saturday, October 25, 2014

Song of the Week #320

STOP PRESS: I waited until after Friday night's gig by The Church to finalise this week's episode. That turned out to be an excellent decision. The gig report is first because, well, it was rather amazing.

The Church are an iconic band. They've been around for about 35 years and have a string of hits, excellent albums and what I would imagine is a decent following. As a result, what ensued last night on the first gig of their tour was probably a shock for most punters and the band too. 

The Church - Pride Before A Fall -

It didn't start well. They were late, very late. During the gig we found out that the tour bus had broken down but whilst waiting around for over 90 minutes with nothing happening most people were less than happy. The crowd for The Church was hardly young, spry, keen to drink beers, listen to too loud music and wait. Finally the soundcheck was piped into the area we were waiting exciting. And then there was the support band. I'm not old enough to know who Canberra band, The Young Doctors are or were (I do remember the TV show) and it doesn't really matter. They were dreadful. Bing and I weren't sure if they were joking or serious for the first few songs. The frontman (the rest of the band were seated and acoustic) was disinterested at best and read all his lyrics from sheets on the floor. He did sound like Dave Faulkner from Hoodoo Gurus though and that was the only good thing I have to say. Harsh perhaps but that's the way I read the performance. Uninspired.

The crowd was small which makes me wonder if the ANU (a standing only venue) was a good choice. I'm 43 years old and there weren't many people there younger than me. The band, including ex-Powderfinger guitarist Ian Haug played their new album in its entirety. The songs were good, the band were a bit loose (first show of the tour) but it wasn't terrible by any stretch of the imagination. Musically there was a lot going on. At one stage they had a false start for a song and the crowd was taught to count to 7 in order to help them out. 

Peter Koppes and Ian Haug both played an interesting range of guitars. Peter's Gretsch Malcolm Young Signature axe was my pick for the night. I had the chance to buy one years ago and baulked at the price. It would've been money well spent. In the press Steve Kilbey described Haug's guitar work as bringing "crunch and muscle" to the band's sound. I didn't hear that at all. What I heard was an awesome array of atmospheric tones and tasty lead work. Koppes was the crunchy one last night at least.

Which brings me to the setlist. Certainly it was no secret that The Church planned to play their brand new album. But I'm not sure that most of the crowd could believe that they did the whole thing start to finish and then ended the show. No hits, no back catalogue moments, nothing. As Kilbey introduced the penultimate song he apologised for being late. A punter shouted out that he should apologise, "for sucking". At this stage Koppes and Kilbey invited the young man to the front to voice his opinion; which he did. What happened next was poor. Experienced bands should have a thick skin and a couple of witty lines to deal with hecklers. But to invite the man to the front, give him his say and then call him "four-eyes", describe his girlfriend as "fat" and tell him to f-off was pretty awful. The band played the last song, came back for a one song encore and that was it.

I might purchase the new album. There were enough good moments last night to keep me interested. But there were also a lot of times when it felt like we were listening to U2 jamming on their newer stuff. Perhaps the edge to the songs (great pun eh?) wasn't quite there yet being early in the tour.

I read an interview with another band who admitted that trotting out their hits could be tedious every now and then. What they did realise however was the the punters usually only get to see the band on that one show and they're coming along on the strength of the songs they know. I liked the idea of hearing the whole new album in order, it's obviously a group of songs meant to intertwine. But seriously, apart from a few people who were a bit vocal, 99% of the crowd were into the music and probably deserved better than a tantrum and the lack of a decent encore.

Regurgitator - I Like Your Old Stuff Better Than Your New Stuff -

It's been a very, very frustrating week at World Wide Woozle Global HQ. After taking my new MESA guitar amplifier on tour and then spending ages and ages afterwards trying to get it to sound the way I wanted I have finally admitted defeat. With a heavy heart I threw some advertisements for it all over the Internets. After being targeted by the standard scammers and then by people too rude to let me know they weren't interested (after they asked a thousand questions) I finally got a buyer. Or so I thought. Although a fair price has been agreed upon I've been stood up more than once with regards to the actual payment of funds and therefore handing over of the amplifier. The jury is still out as to whether or not this guy will finally show up...but I'm not holding my breath. I think I'll just start collecting amplifiers. I've got a big garage after all! Of course, the funniest thing, or is it ironic, is that I had a jam with Chief last weekend and got the amp sounding quite reasonable. Aaaarrrggghhh!

If you're interested, this next track has the rhythm sound I'm looking for. The introduction has tasty guitars that growl without the icepick in the brain harsh edge.

Choirboys - Boys Will Be Boys -

You know, if that's the only thing worrying me then I'm OK I reckon.

I was reminded the other day about band logos. When I was a teenager all the best bands had cool album covers adorned with their name in a logo. AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Van Halen, KISS, Stryper, Motley Crue; all my favourites had a graphic design that kids everywhere drew all over schoolbags and exercise books. I was rather proficient at the Iron Maiden one which is quite amusing now as my drawing skills are fairly terrible.

Run DMC - Mary Mary -

Do you know what a fuzz pedal is? No, it's not a hirsute hipster on a single speed bike, it's for a guitar. Probably the first kind of pedal ever made they are designed to mimic the sound of a torn speaker with a really loud tube amplifier going through it. Think The Kinks "You Really Got Me" and you're there. Hendrix used one, Dave Gilmour (Pink Floyd) does too and of course a thousand other players. You can use one to make your guitar sound harsh or to push the single note sound to a smooth almost violin-esque sound. I'm getting one. And there's not another like it. John from JK Pedals in Melbourne fixed up my old original Boss Turbo Overdrive pedal a while ago. My Dad and I bought that in early 1988 so it was probably due for some love. But John also build pedals so I put in an order for a "Luxe Lady" fuzz box. He did some tweaks for me to get the kind of sound I'm looking for. Well, the pedal is in the mail and I look forward to unleashing sonic nirvana next week. I'm going to use it mainly to thicken up my lead tone so you'll hear it in action if you come to the New Year's Eve show. Loud and proud.

Joe Bonamassa - Just Got Paid -

Speaking of the New Year's Eve show; all the details are on the band's Facebook page here. Funnily enough the show is 31st December and goes into the new year. You'll get 7 courses of food and a band rocking out three sets of all-Australian rock and roll. Who knows, I may have a new amp by then. Book early to avoid disappointment. I know one punter who has already taken 23 seats.

Powderfinger - Baby I've Got You (On My Mind) -

Lastly, I've been right into the first Van Halen album all week. Released in 1978 it's considered by fans and critics as a true classic. I was introduced the album by a friend who used to give me a ride to school once in a while in his old Ford Escort. Van Halen was always in the cassette deck. It's an album with everything really for a rock band. Peerless guitar work, vocals with attitude, a solid bass line and fantastic drumming. No-one else sounded like VH and no one ever has. Their career has been quite a train wreck but there's no doubting their musicianship and songwriting skills.

Van Halen - Runnin' With The Devil -

Van Halen - I'm The One -

Have a good weekend folks. 


"I'm gonna be a rock 'n' roll star
Gotta groove from night to day
Gotta blow my honey jar, yeah
Gotta blow my blues away" - Diamond Head, It's Electric, 1980

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