banner ad
banner ad
banner ad

LIVE REVIEW: BIG DAY OUT 2014 featuring Pearl Jam, Vista Chino, Arcade Fire, Beady Eye, The Hives, Primus, Tame Impala, The Drones

| 13 February 2014 | 1 Reply

Arena Joondalup, Perth, Western Australia
Sunday 2 February 2014
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Photography by Derek Noon

Things were in full swing at BDO’s new (and perhaps final) West Australian venue, Arena Joondalup by early afternoon, with Kingswood attracting a thoroughly decent crowd near the entrance while Kiwis The Naked & Famous made the main stage an indie dance rock party and Big Gigantic had the groovers moving in the Boiler Room big top.

THE DRONES put on a riveting show of swampy dirge-rock that nodded to The Scientists and The Birthday Party in equal measure. Frontman Gareth Liddiard does ‘elegantly wasted’ as well as anyone since Tim Rogers, whether he’s eking out peals of feedback from his beaten axe, spitting lyrics into his Lemmy-like slightly-too-high mic stand, or bemoaning being relegated to the side stage while Tame Impala soak up the glory on the main stage.

It’s hard to drag your eyes from him and onto bassist Fiona Kitschin, stylin’ it up in an elegant blue dress, or the rest of the band, and as the swirling riffs pile high on top of each other it seems the perfect soundtrack to 5 young pups bursting through from jumping the fence and being brought to the ground by security. Enjoy your day in court Monday, boys.

Looking at Liddiard it strikes us that he is as mesmerising as his music because they are both exactly as they should be, yet both give the impression the wheels might fall off at any moment and the whole shebang descend into chaos. It doesn’t of course, and they make a glorious noise up there.

TAME IMPALA get the youngsters throwing shapes on the main stage with a set of softly tripped-out hipster psych rock, and it’s a pleasant enough way for us grizzled old rock dogs to while away a half hour or so.

With a special guest – Steve – on bass duties because “Cam Avery is a noong and double booked himself”, the local ‘heroes’ played most of their debut album, reaching the wider audience in the bar with spirited takes on their hits Feels Like We Only Go Backwards and Elephant, but despite all their recent international fame and touring, the youngsters still seem strangely shy and lacking in presence and charisma to make a main stage set work.

It’s not that they’re bad, just out of their league, and on overlong set closer Apocalypse Dreams they sound less like the new space rock champions than Hawkwind’s over-eager try-hard grandkids that you tolerate while waiting for the real thing to come on next.

PRIMUS, however, are a quirky, truly original, virtuosic and never less than fascinating live attraction. Admitting that he’s never one to play a ‘greatest hits’ set, Les Claypool and his band of merry gentlemen deliver a challenging and exciting collection instead, though he does drop in a snippet of his much-loved South Park TV theme tune. My Name Is Mud and Jerry Was A Race Car Driver keep the wackiness full steam ahead and closer Tommy The Cat ended the set on a high.

Playing a variety of bass guitars – both orthodox and not – like lead guitars, there’s no doubting his inventiveness and playfulness as he delights in challenging and occasionally bewildering his audience, though he’s at his best when sparring musically one-on-one with long time guitarist Larry LaLonde.

The side stages meanwhile had hosted typically no-bullshit sets from cult favourites MUDHONEY and COSMIC PSYCHOS, both keeping the faithful entertained in the sun.

“We are HIVES from Sweden” says Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, and they’re the first band to dominate the stage and not only get the front of the stage enthused, but attract the attention of everyone within earshot as they sport mariachi suits and ninja roadies and blast tracks like Main Offender, Go Right Ahead, Idiot Walk and Hate To Say I Told You So.

Almqvist’s enthusiasm & braggadocio are contagious as he swaggers about the stage, jumps repeatedly into the photo pit, relentlessly (and hilariously) talks up his band and invents ever more ways to get everyone clapping and shouting.

When the sound bleeds from the nearest stage he shouts, “Hey you there – stop playing – Hives are on stage!” before telling us we had better drown them out between songs or we won’t be remembered as being as good a crowd as Adelaide.

It’s pure punk rock entertainment, from the “Thankyou Blur for cancelling so we could come take your place”, to the “I know what you’re thinking, that you can’t handle any more rock n’ roll or you’ll shit barbed wire for a week”, to a full force Tick Tick Boom that goes off like a riot, in which he gets the whole crowd sitting down before making them jump up again, and The Hives are an early highlight.

Liam Gallagher looks tanned, healthy and casual in long shorts and a snug t-shirt as we swaggers out front of BEADY EYE – the band he formed from the scorched earth of Oasis’ final showdown. He’s in fine voice throughout their more cinematic sounding, Oasis-without-the-Beatles-influences originals, even though not many seem to know them.

He’s still a miserable git though, mostly standing and glowering when not singing, hands clutched behind his back, or giving the crowd shit for not enjoying their set more.

“I’m getting’ a good vibe ‘ere,” he says early on, “is that ‘cos it’s a little closer to England?” If only he knew Joondalup was Perth’s own Little Britain, but still they failed to connect beyond the immediate vicinity, prompting Gallagher to bawl out those waiting for Arcade Fire at the adjacent stage, “come over ‘ere. There’s nothing ‘appening there except some roadies with their arses hangin’ out. It’s rude.”

They do come running though, for his former band’s Cigarettes & Alcohol and Wonderwall, and an excellent take on The Stones’ Gimme Shelter. Someone throws a thong and is berated, “how much damage you reckon you’ll do with a flip flop, mate?” he sneers, doing a chicken dance to taunt the dude. It’s entertaining in it’s own way, but not a big surprise when he just gives up 8 minutes early and leaves the stage.

The crowd had five or so minutes to wait for ARCADE FIRE after Gallagher’s lot strutted off ahead of schedule, but quickly appealed to fans of percussive, indie dance rock (not to mention those of papier mache heads), but even still, hundreds of youngsters milled around the food court eating, gossiping and awkwardly flirting well out of reach of any of the six stages. Why pay almost $200 and sit where you can’t hear any music? This generation makes no sense…

Meanwhile VISTA CHINO strolled onstage on the closest side stage with no fanfare or pretence and proceeded to do what they do: stoner rock so dry and rich that it could have blown in on the last zephyr from the desert.

Starting with a couple from their recent Peace album, Dargona Dragona and Adora, the rest of the set is given over to Kyuss classics (3/4 of this band having reunited from those days, albeit under a different name for legal reasons.)

Neither John Garcia nor his bandmates says a word to engage the small crowd during the entire set, letting the music do the talking, but despite initial low volume and energy levels, things ramp up as Brant Bjork pounds and thumps his kit through One Inch Man, Freedom Run and Thumb.

As an aside, throughout the day there’s a constant stream of kids dragged off by security for fence jumping, bar infringements and who knows what else, prompting us to question if ticket prices, at almost two hundred dollars a piece, are out of reach of some, or if today’s youth are jumping on the “music is free” bandwagon of the late 60’s, encouraged along by the ease of illegal downloading.

Back on the main stage Arcade Fire finish up with a cast of a dozen or more on stage for a meandering Here Comes The Night Time before closing with a slightly anti climactic Wake Up.

SNOOP DOGG or LION or whatever he’s called this week was getting all nasty n’ weedy at the other end of the grounds but all the rockers were split between the headliners and GHOST, who enthral and delight over on the side stage, in all their face-painted, mask-and-robe-wearing, dark Cardinal glory, playing a set plucked from their two albums and recent Dave Grohl-produced covers EP If You Have Ghost.

Ghost’s heavy metal is implied rather than forced down the throat, and even though Secular Haze was conspicuous by its absence, Stand By Him, Ritual and Monstrance Clock all delighted with heavy riffs, Seventies rock vocals and swirling, Doors-like organ.

There’s no doubt who the stars of the show are, with the biggest crowd of the day by far cramming in to see Seattle legends PEARL JAM kick out their jams. We dunno where everyone was hiding all day, but with $100 discount tickets available after 6pm, maybe a lot of them came along just for this? Regardless, it was all hands on deck by 8 o’clock and the band ripped straight into a fiery Go right on time.

It’s hard to believe that there’s been ten studio albums from Pearl Jam, and even though their hair is shorter and greyer, and there’s a lot less movement on stage than 20 years ago – that’s reserved for the musical side of things these days – they play a solid cross-section of their work tonight from Even Flow and Animal through to Lightning Bolt and Sirens from their latest platter.

Vedder’s a real ‘man of the people’ – a wildly charismatic frontman who has struggled with the attention and responsibility that comes with that. As he swigs from a bottle or two of red wine, slows things down to ensure there wasn’t someone down in the pit (no-one wants a repeat of Roskilde 2000) and jokes about some of his favourite Perth place names (winner – Dog Swamp), he and the band eschew any hint of artifice or pretence.

After ninety minutes of rock that included a near-perfect Jeremy, the wonderfully melancholic Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town and a stirring Rearviewmirror, they take a short break before Vedder sidles amiably back and says “still here?”

What follows is a masterclass in throwing the After Party onstage for ten thousand or so of your closest friends – an acoustic shot at Hunters & Collectors Throw Your Arms Around Me is followed by a chorus of Happy Birthday for guest keysman Boom Gaspar and a great, rollicking version of Victoria Williams’ Crazy Mary. The whole band are sensational, especially Jeff Ament’s bass playing and Mike McCready’s guitar work.

Pearl Jam live BDO Perth 2014 by Derek Noon

Fuck labels like grunge or alternative. Pearl Jam are just a great rock n’ roll band, and they proved that tonight. Lovely extended versions of Black and Porch follow, before Arcade Fire’s Win Butler joins the band for a triumphant run through Neil Young’s Rockin’ In The Free World and the end of the show – and possibly the end of the Big Day Out – for West Australia at least.

If it must be the end, this was a fantastic, relaxing, and thoroughly enjoyable way to end it. With 19,000 in attendance according to official figures, yes it’s well down on recent events, but it made for a considerably more pleasant experience for those who went – no queues for food or drink or toilets, no aggro, easier to use public transport, etc.

The Big Day Out invented the Australian travelling festival, and this was the 21st to come all the way out West. In the early days it made sense to diversify the line-up – but now, with the likes of Soundwave, Stereosonic, Blues & Roots and Future Music all catering to specific niche markets, perhaps BDO need to change with the times and find a new niche they can call their own. Being all things to all people worked in the beginning to bring music fans of different shades together – it was a very 90’s indie concept. Now may be time to bring BDO up to date with less diversification and a more focussed brand.

And, purely from a personal point of view, do we really need 6 stages and 75 bands? 3 stages is more than enough, and will free up funds to get better name acts.

Despite the official statement that BDO “won’t ever” come back to Perth, we still hold out hope that in light of a successful day at Arena Joondalup, the organisers may reverse that decision – or even send a cut-down BDO-Lite line-up to Adelaide and Perth for future events.

The new venue is a vast improvement in terms of facilities and layout, even if it’s less central.
Lower crowds meant easier, quicker access to food, drink and conveniences.
The music. Always the music.

Low points:
No wine at the bars – the arrogance!!
How is this NOT a smoke free event yet??
Too much sound bleeding between the stages
Bootleggers selling home made T shirts of Pearl Jam right outside the main entrance while police stand idly by a few meters away turning a blind eye to the scumbags.


Set lists:

Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers
Last Salmon Man
Groundhog’s Day
Over the Falls
Lee Van Cleef
(South Park theme played by Les before song)
Jilly’s on Smack
Southbound Pachyderm
My Name Is Mud
Jerry Was a Race Car Driver
Tommy the Cat
Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
Rebellion (Lies)
Joan of Arc
The Suburbs
Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
Ready to Start (w/ ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” intro)
Afterlife (w/ ‘Porno’ outro)
Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
Keep the Car Running
No Cars Go
Normal Person
Here Comes the Night Time
Wake Up
Per Aspera ad Inferi
Con Clavi Con Dio
Stand by Him
Prime Mover
If You Have Ghosts
(Roky Erickson cover)
Year Zero
Monstrance Clock
Do the Evolution
Last Exit
Mind Your Manners
Lightning Bolt
Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town
Even Flow
Unthought Known
Satan’s Bed

Throw Your Arms Around Me
(Hunters & Collectors cover)
Crazy Mary
(Victoria Williams cover)
Given to Fly
Rockin’ in the Free World
(Neil Young cover) (with Win Butler)

Category: Live Reviews, Photo Galleries

About the Author ()

Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

Sites That Link to this Post

  1. PEARL JAM CONCERT TOUR 2014 About | 17 February 2014

Leave a Reply

Please verify you\'re a real person: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

banner ad
banner ad