Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Tuesday, April 03, 2007 
The Palace

Closing your eyes during this gig is like entering a time warp. A time warp you thought as likely to ever appear and open as the discovery of a black hole you could surf into. The sounds, the riffs, the spot on rhythm and tonal replications are faultless, the songs so familiar it's like music that has gone round and round in your head bursting into life on stage. Opening them however, it's like some parents of the 30-somethings who make up most of those around you, have taken the stage in one gigantic successfully-avoided embarassment; Frank Black like a bouncer who got up and started battering out Pixies' covers really really well, Kim Deal a chain-smoking soccer mom with an unnervingly permanent smile, Joey Santiago looking oddly like an indie-rock Ming The Merciless; incidentally-exuded coolness pushing sweat to the end of his merciless little beard, and Dave Lovering every inch the Scientific Phenomenolist he now is; Oldham-like in appearance and flailing away as if conducting the best experiment ever.

But to the beginning. The Panics were fine. Top tunes, a tough gig without a doubt, but handled like professionals. A bit Drones-lite, and many lyrics lost, but enough heads nodded to not make this another "what is this Melbourne band doing supporting this totally dissimilar international band?" support.

Crows of elation came from those in the front rows once they eyeballed (and photographed and filmed) the setlists as they were taped down. We were without a doubt, about to have dreams come true. Doubts still lingered though....could Frank still hit the high notes? Could Kim hold it together for a gig without chemical assistance? Would the mecurical energy that coursed through their early records still be here 20 years on?
Moments later it was as if everyone in The Palace had just hit a collective ecstasy high and the four 40-year-olds set about bringing legend to life. Kim's cooing In Heaven was almost too apt an opener, the pared down UK-Surf version of Wave Of Mutilation followed and many were hoping this general gentleness wouldn't define the gig. An explosion of Bone Machine blasted that theory straight down and soon enough U-Mass, Monkey Gone To Heaven, Head On, Gouge Away and classics that make so many love this band pour forth.

On the one hand this was one of the more perfunctory gigs ever played in Melbourne - stage banter is non-existant besides the odd stoned salutation from Kim Deal - they could be playing anywhere to anyone. On the other, the monumental "pinch me I must be dreaming" feeling never quite leaves the squashed smiling masses and clearly note-perfect renditions of classics are what people want, and get.
It is this shared buoyancy that thrilled through the queuing hopefuls and now through those who made it in, that means many are too busy documenting the event or concerned about the welfare of their digital camera or phone to actually cut loose, certainly not many are regular gig-goers. This unwillingness to express the obvious joy many must be feeling doesn't prevent some solid moshpit action though, particularly for Planet Of Sound, No. 13 Baby, Crackity Jones, Something Against You, Debaser, Tame and most of the Come On Pilgrim EP. Joey Santiago conducting his guitar with a well-flung drumstick and guitar-lead solo through Vamos is a highlight, as is Dave Lovering's head generally. Frank barely cracks a smile, something Kim more than makes up for amidst clouds of smoke; their subtle communication - poetry, particularly if you knew of their history. If they were part of your history - and they probably are, the whole night was poetry. The house lights revealing the stumbling sweaty masses barely being able to talk for smiling was proof of that.

No comments:

Post a Comment