Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Friday June 16, 2017 :
It’s a full Enmore Theatre here tonight, and rightly so. Two of the most endearing voices from Sydney’s garage punk scene, Radio Birdman representing it’s inception (mid ’70s), and Died Pretty it’s maturing, (mid ’80s) have tag-teamed themselves onto a National tour that begins right here, tonight. The predominately middle-aged crowd who, back in the day, were doing exactly what they are doing tonight, were in from an absolute treat.
With headliners alternating nightly, it was Died Pretty opening with a cut from their 1986 Free Dirt debut, ‘Just Skin’. Now I have seen DP many times over the years, and have always enjoyed the way the music moves singer Ron Peno’s body. There’s a level of authenticity to it.
The setlist was weighted heavily towards the band’s most critically lauded release, 1991’s Doughboy Hollow. Seven out of the 15 song setlist in fact, but nobody complained. Hearing cuts like ‘DC’, ‘Sweetheart’ and ‘Doused’ simply brought a roar out of the crowd. Brett Myers’ searing guitar-work has always been a highlight, and tonight he was on song. Trace‘s ‘Harness Up’ appeared to everyone’s approval, and the main set closed with the driving ‘Winterland’, a track from the second album, Lost.
With a single studio album released during their brief initial existence, Radio Birdman have had a profound influence on the Australian independent music landscape. 40 years on, we have seen two more studio releases, a handful of live albums, and an increased presence on the touring circuit over the past 3 years.
As a live band, as the RB unit, they may not have spent much of those 40 years on a stage, but as musicians, they have spent their lives there. It shows. Totally on form. Then when you give them 20 tracks that are the blueprint to the independent music scene that follows, it’s a beautiful thing.
Opening with their cover of the 13th Floor Elevators, ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’, it was a ferocious set that touched on all of their prime cuts. ‘Do The Pop’, ‘Descent in the Maelstrom’, ‘I-94’, ‘Alone in the Endzone’… these are songs that need to be heard live, and this band are definitely up to the task.
Ending the main set with ‘New Race’ created a pit full of Dad-bods that went damn hard, and closing the night with ‘TV-Eye’ was a spitting finale to the night. Both bands have a rich catalog, are significantly to the history of the Australian music landscape, and are as vital and relevant as they were when we were all 20. Awesome night.
Photographer and Reviewer : Kevin Bull