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Live – The Saints – Fremantle, 30 November 2012

| 3 December 2012 | Reply

with The Volcanics
Fly By Night Club, Fremantle, Western Australia
By Shane Pinnegar

It’s been many a moon since Chris Bailey has brought The Saints out West for a show – close to 25 years, in fact – so it’s no surprise that the Fly By Night was bulging at the seams with a sellout crowd for this show.

The Volcanics imbue the spirit of early Saints and fellow rabble rousers Radio Birdman perhaps more than any other local band – with one eye firmly trained on Detroit and the 60’s garage explosion, not to mention the pop sensibilities of Tamla Motown and Stax Records.

Got To Get A Move On lays down a wall of sound all their own – seemingly louder and more intense now they’ve trimmed down to a four piece.  Johnny Phatouros’s vocals shine in this slimmer format too, ringing clear and true through Tell Me What You Want before thrashing tambourines while guitarist Tommy Hopkins takes the lead vocal for a raucous Get Sold.

Featuring oldies (Hold It Down) and newies (Don’t Get Me A Doctor) from their forthcoming Rob Younger-produced opus, they can’t put a step wrong tonight, until chaos rears it’s head…

The band launch into a rifftastic cover of Birdman’s Murder City Nights just as the bouncers launch an enthusiastic dancer out the door – followed quickly by Phatouros, protesting the guy’s innocence while three quarters of the band plays on through the punk garage classic without lyrics except for the chanted chorus.  Words fly stage left while necks crane to see what’s happening, before the singer returns, launching into a disgusted tirade about whoever complained about their new mate with the flailing arms.  The chant rises up through the crowd: ‘Bring him back’ they holler, feet stomping, and lo and behold – he is brought back to watch out the show.  Punk rock is alive and well!  Power to the people!

One more song and The Volcanics are through, and what an impression they’ve left!

The Saints take the stage louchely, following 1982 single Follow The Leader with a brace from latest album King Of The Sun (A Million Miles Away, Sweet Chariot), the beguiling and beautiful melodies enrapturing even those who have only come for the ‘old stuff’.  The music is rawer and more jagged than on record, but that doesn’t stop them showing subtleties and charm in abundance.  Sweet Chariot really sees the band hitting their stride, all Ghost Riders In The Sky atmospherics, after which we see the first appearance of Bailey’s acerbic tongue – “Waddaya mean I hope they liven up?  This IS lively.  Why don’t YOU liven up with some… [throws bad dancing shapes]”

Bailey seems to be enjoying bantering sarcastically with the crowd, which thins a little as the set goes on, some people perhaps wanting to hear only 1976’s abrasive punk, rather than the varied fruits of four decades of artistic achievements.

More new tracks follow – King Of The Sun and Duty – the band’s nuanced delivery strikingly apposite against the plain, sparse, blank backdropped stage.

Sardonically introducing 1986 hit Just Like Fire Would as a ‘Kylie cover song‘, Bailey takes it upon himself to self-deprecatingly accept the offer of a drink from one crowd member – “I may well be a pretentious wanker,” he says bluffly, “but a gin & tonic wouldn’t go amiss!

Closing out the main set, Demolition Girl sees Bailey at his most shamanic, while Peter Wilkinson beats out a tribal, Doorsy rhythm, Sean Carey feeds back shrieks of guitar noise and Andy Judd delivers an acid-soaked keyboard background that would make Manzarek proud.

Bailey returns with just an acoustic guitar for a rousing yet fragile Temple Of The Lord, Photograph and Massacre, giving his all in a touching performance that mirrors his status as an artist, pretentious wanker or not.  Who cares if 20% of the crowd had left before the encore – I suspect Chris Bailey himself would be happy they were gone so those that stayed to respect the art and the evolved artist could enjoy the music more.

The band return for Ghost Ships, and Messin’ With The Kid, full of Jon Lord organ and classic rock bombast, before Bailey introduces Know Your Product as a ballad, delivering a full force punk anthem full of raunch and vitriol.   And then they were gone – and even without their most famous song I’m Stranded, we’re left hoping it will be a far shorter wait til we see them here again.



Category: Live Reviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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