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| 17 July 2023 | Reply

The Charles Hotel, with The Potato Stars
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Some know Dave Warner as the originator of Aussie punk with his early band Pus, some as the OG Suburban Boy with this outfit, Dave Warner’s From The Suburbs. Bob Dylan named him as one of his favourite Australian artists, The Stranglers thought him one of the only Aussie acts who were ‘suss’, UK slang of the times for ‘in the know.’ Legendary L.A. scenester and Runaways creator/svengali Kim Fowley helped him hone the concept for his fourth album, This Is My Planet.

Michael Gudinski signed him to Mushroom Records early, and since moving on from the record industry in the early 1980’s he’s published a wealth of novels and non-fiction books, as well as releasing new music in the form of 2016’s When album, and multiple stand-alone singles.

This tour is to celebrate the band’s 1978 debut album, Mug’s Game, playing every track, and he’s reunited the original band to do so – minus late, deeply missed, guitarist Johnny Leopard – guitarist Tony Durant (whose awesome psych rock band Fuschia is rare gem), bassist Paul Noonan, drummer Howie Johnstone and keyboardist John Dennison. It’s great to hear the original players, though the sound could have done with the oomph of a second guitar.

Warner’s strength as an insightful lyricist has always been that he writes – as he states himself in the Mug’s Game live intro to ANZAC Day favourite Convict Streak – “by an Australian, for Australians, in search of our culture.” More succinctly, he has always been one of – if not the – keenest observers of Aussie culture, the Australian Condition if you will, from a suburban perspective, and often with a heavy dose of satire.

Potato Stars open the show in their inimitably shambolic style, all punk sensibility and garage sound. Ardent fans of Warner, they don’t play their cover of The Suburbs’ Suburban Boy, but do deliver a mix of originals (Legoland being one favourite) and covers (including The Scientist’s Swampland). They entertain some and appal others – which is how we suspect they most like it. That they had dancers up the front is more than enough for singer Falcon Randwick, who’s positively frothing with joy after his set.

The Suburbs deliver a crowd pleasing set covering – as previously mentioned – all of Mug’s Game, including the aforementioned Convict Streak, Warner not inaccurately declaring that ‘no-one under 45 understands satire now’; Campus Day’s ode to awkward uni life somewhere between a teen and an adult; classic hit Suburban Boy, with its entirely relatable refrain ‘I’ve been rejected every night, and I’m sure it must be easier for boys from the city’; Worst Day; and the title track, an epic and hilarious rant involving some of Warner’s most enduring characters Derek & Sandra, Zongo and Robert, all updated for these times, including some astute skewering of modern social dating mores.

There’s about half of Mug’s Game’s 1979 follow-up Free Kicks, including Aussie celeb name dropping Kangaroo Hop; Sidewalk Surfin’s skateboarding rocker; Strange Night’s tale of suburban manslaughter after driving home half pissed; and a smattering of his other work, not least of which is Half Time At The Football with its gloriously chaotic crowd participation, making the sounds of ambulance sirens, teenage girls getting off on the lounge room floor, clueless teenage boys and more; the demi-novelty single Kookaburra Girl; Wimbledon’s analogy of the music industry to pro tennis; Bicton vs Brooklyn’s showdown of suburban boy vs New York gangster; and high powered rocker Nothing To Lose.

The ragtag remnants of Warner’s aging Suburban Army of followers – no disrespect intended, but even we, in our fifties, brought the average age of attendees down on the night – needed no convincing, lapping up every riff and every insightful or satirical nugget falling from the singer’s lips.

They’re here to relive past glories after all, as guided by suburban savant guru Warner, from the queue to get through the door, to the queue to shake Dave’s hand on the way out (or, perhaps, ‘from the moment that you’re born, ‘til the instant that you’re dead, all your picnics on the lawn and all your exercise in bed’ as he sings in Mug’s Game), and even though there was no time for classics Hot Crotch, Girls Wank, Old Stock Road, Car Park and many more, not a one of us had cause for anything less than complete suburban satisfaction.

Set List:
Kangaroo Hop
Australian Heat
Strange Night
Convict Streak
Wimbledon (When version)
Campus Days
Worst Day
African Summer
Eve Of Destruction
Half Time At The Football
Sidewalk Surfin’
Kookaburra Girl
Bicton vs Brooklyn
Nothing To Lose
Suburban Boy
Mug’s Game

Suburban Rock


Category: Live Reviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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