Max’s Kansas City was one of the legendary New York City scenes of the 1970s, home to Andy Warhol’s crew and a musical stamping ground for the Velvet Underground, Heartbreakers, Iggy & the Stooges and countless others.
It’s the club where Iggy met David Bowie and had his career fortunes revived, Debbie Harry waited on tables, Patti Smith went star-spotting and the Lou Reed era Velvets played their final shows.
Former Max’s promoter Peter Crowley is hosting a 50th anniversary round of shows from June 4-8 and the line-ups feature some of the best that what’s left of the old-school NYC underground scene.
It's been over two years since I've seen Harry Howard and the NDE live and I feel a bit like a kid with too much red cordial and wedding cake sloshing around inside. So I'm on the lemonade tonight.
Arriving at the Metro a little late (it's Friday night and we've been home to feed, listen to the band do a sterling four songs and interview on local radio 3D, guzzle red cordial and cake, change and dash back out) I catch a few songs of the St Morris Sinners ripping up a rug and am dragged just outside to breathe the same air as half the smokers in Adelaide.
Harry Howard and The NDE at The Facory Floor. Lyndal Irons photo
Many years ago when Sydney was full of thriving, original music venues, Friday night for me was always a combination of either playing gigs or checking out new bands.
There was never a shortage. I grabbed my copy of "On the Street" on the Wednesday, eased into my chair and sat there with my red pen. After reading the odd review, I would scrawl and circle names of bands to see in the “What’s On.”
Every now then I would get to the Lansdowne, Evening Star, Hopetoun and many others and be happy with just finding a new band. Well, times change. Nothing remains the same. Seeing a new band is a rare night out these days.
Wonderful. I love pop, especially smart, intelligent, literate pop. In one sense this LP is kinda like discovering one of those '60s gems at the back of your older brother's collection and realising... this is just fucking perfect. In timeless pop style, I cannot pick my favourite song. And I keep playing the thing. Over and over.
From the spectacle of the Rolling Stones the previous night, I awaken somewhat seedy and blasted. It’s been a huge week, dealing with our Beasts of Bourbon documentary, taking note of Stoneswatch, seeing the Stones on a stage half a soccer pitch away and now… Rowland, who would have been 55 the previous day (AKA Stonesday here in Adelaide).
Ho to the Wheatsheaf Hotel on a borderline suffocating hot day, where Alison Lea’s photographs of young Rowland (the infamous late 1980 Adelaide tour, where scrawny Nick Cave painted a skull and tentacles on his chest, performed topless with the paint running to buggery and beyond.) If you’ve seen the cover of the Nick the Stripper 12”, that’s Alison’s photo. If you need more information go here.
There were two sets, the first being These Immortal Souls, and the second devoted to Rowland’s solo work. It wasn’t the line-up for the Melbourne shows; Hugo Race wasn’t there, nor was his sister Angela, nor Ed Kuepper.
I haven’t been so profoundly moved all year. Partly because, after interviewing him on many occasions and brought him down to Adelaide for a few gigs, I knew Rowland reasonably well. Which meant that seeing these songs being performed by his friends had me rather teary. It was painful to watch, confronting, nasty even; more poignantly, his words are now far more loaded…
We'll start with the obvious. You need this one like you need underpants or shoes or food. Get it here. Buy "Pretty" for Christmas presents. Buy it for people you barely know. Send it to everyone in TV and Movie Land you can think of.
If the '90s and early '00s were the era of young folk aping the look of punk junkies (see Buffy the Vampire Slayer), the Twenteens will be remembered as the era of OI! BEARDFACE! YOU! FACE THE FUCKING AUDIENCE! You are PERFORMING! YOUR BACK DOES NOT PERFORM! YOU FUCKING TWAT!