Monday, December 7, 2009


Friday, April 11, 2008 
Ding Dong

Happy Goths! Everywhere! That's the first thing that becomes apparent on walking into the Ding Dong tonight; the sense of reverence and respect that is metered out to only a very select few Australian musicians, and even fewer people at all from this audience. Ambling onto the stage the Dickensian chimney sweep of Australian rock, a (seemingly barely) living legend and songwriter who tonight proves that the peak of his powers are possibly yet to come. Sporting his trademark battered white Fender Jaguar, Howard has visibly more zest and energy than his last appearance four months back when he outshone The Devastations as their support. Howard straight away begins the chugging chords of Oh Jim showing that he is one of the very few performers around with the authority to get inside a Lou Reed song (something he does brilliantly again later tonight with his version of Ocean) and render it as his own. 'Every note of every song tonight is dedicated to Bianca,' intones Howard sincerely, scouring the crowd for his muse before launching into Dead Radio. Despite barely moving, not shifting from his half-octave vocal range and using only the one guitar sound, one style and almost one rhythm for each song tonight, Howard somehow, through sheer persistence maybe, owns the Ding Dong tonight. Yes the songs are good, the crowd clearly adore him and he's a fascinating sonambulistic character to watch, but he is so adept at putting himself through the songs and comfortable being on stage that each song reinforces the feeling that it's we who are lucky to be here, not (after all his adventures, japes and scrapes) him.

"After some consultation we arrived at a spurious agreement,' laughs Howard into the mic following a lengthy chat with the obviously very important Bianca. Whatever it was that was said it was the stuff of pure inspiration because Howard returns for an encore of sorts which brings down the house. These Immortal Souls' Crowned is resurrected in stunning style, while White Wedding is rendered in the only way Howard knows how; excoriating, tough melancholy, The closing gem - one of the more unjustly ignored songs of recent decades and a highlight from his Teenage Snuff Film album - Autoluminescent: 'I'm bigger than Jesus Christ / I'm greater than God in light / I'm...dangerous.' Possibly the highlight of the show though, is his mid-show aside: "all you people who've been coming to my shows the last few years will be glad to know I'm recording a new album in July.' his youthful smile following this brief remark was mirrored on every face. Bring it on.

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