Sunnyboys + Rocket Science + The Prize Northcote Theatre, VIC Saturday 28 January 2023Michelle Bilson photos
A work colleague of mine told me once she’d had her wedding reception at the Northcote Theatre, back when it was known as Fani’s Receptions in the late 1980s, 70-odd years after its original opening as a picture theatre. The marriage didn’t last too long – about six months, I think – but the venue was still hosting sumptuously catered family celebrations up until it was taken over and reinvigorated as a live music venue.
The benefit of personal geographical proximity aside, I’m not sold on Northcote Theatre just yet. The combination of a high ceiling and a lack of absorbent surfaces renders the acoustic profile imperfect. Like the property prices in the local area, the drink prices are on the high side; frustratingly, it’s a cash-free venue and the distance between the stage and bar makes for a challenging journey for all concern.
The season finale of Monday Evening Gunk is this Monday. Point your browser at the MoshPit Bar Facebookat 7.30pm Sydney time on November 23 to catch Richard Burgman of Sunnyboys, ther Saints, Weddings Parties Anythingand many more talking to broadcaster-author Stuart Coupe and ex-Trilobites bassist Scott Leighton. A live set from Freaksd of Nature (a near Trilobites reunion) will take us out. You can catch-up for the replay here on Tuesday.
Brian Mann and Mick Medew trading licks in Thirroul. Shona Ross photo.
Gonna break that rule about not reviewing I-94 Bar gigs, as the second of this two-night engagement was badged thus. If you can’t write about things you like, what’s the point? It’s the ethos of why we do this e-zine thing.
So let’s be up front and say that Mick Medew is a good mate and his band, The Mesmerisers, are lovely people. In customary evangelical spirit, I’m unashamedly going to tell you that if you love rock and roll then you have to see them - in their native Brisbane or on one of their few forays outside of Queensland. The first leg of this two-night weekend stand was a support to the mighty Sunnyboys, opening a bill shared with the mercurial Ups & Downs. The venue was the magic Anita’s Theatre in Thirroul, an hour-and-a-bit south of Sydney. The second was a Sydney show at the increasingly familiar stamping ground of Marrickville Bowling Club. The Mesmerisers are making the road trip a family affair with partners and two offspring in tow.
1. The Sunnyboys / The Flaming Hands / The Shy Imposters - Enmore Theatre2. Descent into the Maelstrom : The untold story of Radio Birdman3. 4. Son Volt - Factory Theatre5. Steve Earle - So You Wannabe An Outlaw CDLP6. Tift Merritt - Stitch of the World CDLP7. Lindi Ortega - "Til the goin' gets gone" EP8. Ghost on The Highway : A Portrait of Jeffrey Lee Pierce and The Gun Club9. Beware of Mr. Baker (Ginger Baker documentary)10. (Far from) honorary mentions - - The Phringe Dwellers - recording new stuff with current line-up- Dave Favours and The Roadside Ashes - releasing and launching 7" single + recording songs for vinyl LP- Releasing my solo CD #4 "From Beth to Evie"
It's almost 2019… and the world seems to be going mad. But the big question I ask myself… is rock dead?
I see alternate styles of music like rap, hip-hop and commercial pop dominating youth culture. I wouldn’t recognise Drake or Flume if they dropped their USB sticks in front of me. In closeted rock’n’roll enclaves such as the I-94 Bar dirty rock’n’roll seems to be thriving, but one by one icons are dropping off the perch. How much longer can it survive?
The benchmark I’ve been looking at is guitar sales. Electric guitar sales have slipped 22.7 percent since 2008… the price of guitars is rocketing, yet it appears that the acoustic market is on the up… Something like a 15 percent increase over the same period. Although insipid, whiny vocal sounds have probably been tied to the same trend.
The trend that parallels the increase of Ed Sheeran wannabes is the rise of vinyl sales. I’d guess that pot smoking hippies, listening on their Technics SL1200 to Bob Dylan re-masters trying figure out how to play protest songs while avoiding the dreaded F chord are to blame.
Despite my sense of foreboding I did manage to catch some quality rock’n’roll but I put that down to confirmation bias. My personal faves:
The Celebrity Roadie informs The Barman that he can't go out in public like that. As usual, he's ignored. Kyleigh Pitcher photo.
This is a Top Ten of two parts. First, live gigs, and second, albums. You know. Second part, different from the first.The rule of not reviewing my own gigs goes right out the door from the get-go. Got an issue with that? See you in the carpark...
Chris Masuak and the Sydney City Wave Riders:This was a sensational run of shows- a mini-tour in and around Sydney because that’s all that time allowed - by Klondike and his crack band of Tony Bambach (bass) and Stuart Wilson (drums). Great players, top blokes. Armed with a killer setlist drawing on most of Chris’s back catalogue, the guys fired from the get go. Many of the versions surpassed the originals with Maz playing two guitar parts, as few people can. The shows blew away much of the skullduggery and malakarey involved with certain ghosts from the recent past.
HITS at Marrickville BowloYou can’t keep playing the same old songs or you’ll get staid and there’s no sign of HITS doing that just yet. Members are now scattered the length of the East Coast so it can’t be easy getting together…or maybe that’s a blessing in disguise because it keeps things fresh. They continue to be THE Aussie band to follow.
The Celebrity Roadie Peter Ross attracts fans wherever he goes. Veteran road manager John Pearce (right) inspects his ponytail to make sure it's real.
The On and Ons @ almost everywhere – The Sydney power-pop phenomenon rolls on and gets ready to record a third album. Strong songs from singer/songwriter Glenn Morris and the pedigree of Clyde Bramley, Jon Roberts and Brian Morris make for irresistible pop. Welcome Aboard!Watch
The Flaming Hands @ Factory Theatre & Enmore – A couple of power packed shows from these '80s icons blew my mind. Julie Mostyn’s crack band of Radio Birdman’s Warwick Gilbert, Peter Bull and Barton Price brought a polished sheen to Jeff Sullivan and Julie’s songs. They should come back again… soon! Watch .
KC goes to more live shows than your mother goes to Tuppaware parties. Here's his Top Ten of Sydney gigs.
EVEN – NEWTOWN SOCIAL CLUBA power pop fans dream and a very early “gig of the year” contender from the Fab Three. Supported by the wonderful On and Ons and Soul Movers on a stinker of a summer EVENing. Is it heresy to say I like them and their songs so much more than You Am I? I eagerly await the Christmas Even show at The Landsdowne on December 23.
THE APARTMENTS – THE FACTORY FLOORA wonderful set of sparse songs, full of emotion, not sentimental but heart tugging and soul searing. Spare and simple arrangements enhanced by nuanced and subtle musicianship of Peter Milton-Walsh’s fellow musicians, including Amanda Brown.
DIED PRETTY – ENMORE THEATREFollowing on from two cracking shows in 2016, Ron Peno and co delivered another amazing set and they were the band of the night at Radio Birdman’s big show. Brett Myers, what a guitarist.
It is with deep regret and many apologies that Sunnyboys announce they are unable to perform this weekend's shows in Byron Bay and Brisbane.This Australian ‘flu season is one of the worst on record and unfortunately it has struck the band, leaving one member bed ridden. However, the boys have been able to reschedule quickly.
The new and remaining dates are:
Sat August 13: Melbourne, Corner Hotel (limited tickets available) with Underground Lovers & Little Murders(tickets from July 9 valid for this date)Fri August 19: Byron Bay, The Northern (limited tickets available) with Mick Medew & The Mesmerisers(tickets from July 15tand August 5 valid for this date)Sat August 20: Brisbane, Princess Theatre (limited tickets available) with Mick Medew & The Mesmerisers(tickets from July 16 and August 14 valid for this date)
As they were in 1981. Catherine Croll photo
In 2012, a reformed Sunnyboys delivered arguably the most emotional comeback of any Australian band in living memory. More on that soon. Three years later, they’ve given us the most unlikely of resurrected albums, with a stunning re-issue of their second record, “Individuals”.
Originally released in May 1982 when the band was poised to take the Australian charts by the throat, it sold respectably but ultimately foundered under the weight of massive expectations and a curiously subdued mix.
The discovery of a previously lost rough mix among the estate of their late producer and manager (as well as legendary guitarist), Lobby Loyde, cast a new light on a largely overlooked record. The new version sounds as lively and dynamic as the band’s “Sunnyboys” debut from 1980.
Down The Shops – Even (Cheersquad Records and Tapes)
Even’s newest release, “Down The Shops” is a collection of covers recorded and released between 1996 and 2019.
Many appeared on Even‘s CD and vinyl singles and others are better known from tribute albums. The songs are a mixture of studio recordings and live performances.
While the selection of songs points to obvious influences- Kinks, Beatles, Yardbirds, Master’s Apprentices - it also encompasses less obvious sources such as the MC5 and the Sex Pistols.
It’s time to kiss and make up. When “Individuals” was released back in 1982, as a follow-up to the Sunnyboys’ barnstorming eponymous debut, it was justifiably unloved by many.
The songs were…good…but slower. Its lead-off single, the curious “This Is Real”, was stilted and a million miles removed from the infectious “Happy Man” and “Alone With You”. The biggest drawback, however, was the record’s lifeless production which reduced the sound of the Sunnyboys to an empty husk. It lacked warmth and sounded distant.
It’s been a long time between shows but Sunnyboys are re-emerging for a three-state Australian winter tour.
When they last toured in 2020 Sunnyboys chose the salubrious surrounds of Taronga Zoo, Melbourne’s Forum and the like; this time though, the band will get down and sweaty playing intimate venues more akin to their breakout year of 1981.
Melbourne pop-rockers Even will join the fun in Sydney and Melbourne while former Screaming Tribesman Mick Medew will bring his band The Mesmerisers to Brisbane and Byron Bay. All shows are on-sale tomorrow May 6 at feelpresents.com
SunnyboysJULY1 – Factory Theatre Sydney + Even9 – The Corner, Melbourne + Even + Little Murders15 – Great Northern, Byron Bay + Mick Medew & The Mesmerisers|16 – Princess Theatre, Brisbane, + Mick Medew & The MesmerisersTix here
Jeff Sullivan and Julie Mostyn. Steve Teece photo
The dictionary defines serendipity as “a pleasant surprise” and it's a term that scientists working in medical research are fond of using. It’s also at the heart of how the looming reformation of beloved Sydney band the Flaming Hands came about.
Singer Julie Mostyn is on the phone from the Coffs Harbour home she shares with husband Warwick Gilbert, onetime bassist and graphic artist for Radio Birdman. She clearly remembers serendipity’s intervention on that very same landline, late in 2016.
“It was one of those life-changing phone calls…one that shocks you out of something you’ve been trying to get out of for a while,” she recalls.
“It was a call from Peter Oxley of the Sunnyboys, and he said: ‘Would you consider reforming the Flaming Hands?’ And I thought for half a second and said: ‘Yeah, that’d be good’.”
Talk about timing. It was as good as any excuse for Julie to ditch her day job in a local bank and embark on what's not so much a career revival as a chance to revisit great times, renew old partnerships and - maybe - push the musical boat out just a little further.
More on that last point later. More immediately, it means Flaming Hands supporting the Sunnyboys at the Sydney show of their February Australian tour, with similarly reformed friends, Shy Impostors, opening the gig.
Flaming Hands were Sydney’s best soul and psych pop band, a potent and popular outfit based around Julie Mostyn’s passionate voice and guitarist Jeff Sullivan’s emotion-baring songs.
In 2020 Sunnyboys will celebrate 40 years since their inception (though a mere 12 years of actual existence) via liver shows and a new release. “Sunnyboys 40” brings together the first ever re-release of the band’s much loved 1980 eponymous debut 7” - featuring the original version of the all-time classic “Alone With You” - alongside four new recordings of songs from the archives of chief songwriter Jeremy Oxley.
The full length 8-track album will be released on November 29 via all formats including a limited edition vinyl release complete with hard cover 12 page 30cm x 30cm photo essay of the band, as well as CD, cassette and all digital platforms. Sunnyboys 40 is available for pre-order now via here and hits retail on November 29.
Ten years on from their glorious live return following a 21-year hiatus, Sunnyboys have announced a final summer tour and the last ever live shows. No animosity, no musical differences, just the satisfaction of a job well done and knowing that it’s time.
The Last Dance Tour will run in conjunction with the release of “Sunnyboys ’81-’84” a double vinyl band curated best-of featuring all the hits, the equally-as-good B-sides, fan faves, rarities and live material - many appearing on vinyl for the first time - and all drawn from their years as Mushroom Records recording artists.
“Sunnyboys ’81-’84” will be released in a limited edition of blue vinyl and is released on November 11.
Tickets for the tour go on sale tomorrow. Dates after the See More link.
Ed Kuepper leads his Aints! through their final show for a while.
Sedition 2019 The Aints!The Flaming HandsShy ImpostorsThe ProfessorsPaddington RSL, Sydney Saturday, August 31 2019
It could have been an exercise in nostalgia for its own sake. It was anything but.
On paper, a bunch of bands digging into their own back pages is a fraught exercise. Things can never be what they once were; voices age and players who were at one time singularly focused on the musical here and now inevitably drift on or find new interests. Some pass on. Others fall out with each other.
Each of these bands come from a special time and a place that can’t be re-captured. Each was leaning, to some degree, on their back catalogues tonight. All were doing their best to be true to their own legacy without getting hung up on it.
Covid is a fun wrecker that’s for sure; it doesn’t like entertainment, travel or adventure… and with that in mind Sunnyboys have decided to move all dates on their current tour back to give affected members the chance to fully recover.
Thursday 28 July: Sydney, Factory Theatre (sold out)(tickets from July 1 valid for this date)Saturday 30 July: Sydney, Factory Theatre (tickets from July 2 valid for this date)Friday 5 August: Byron Bay, The Northern(tickets from July 15 valid for this date)Saturday 6 August: Brisbane, Princess Theatre (limited tickets)(tickets from July 16 valid for this date)Saturday 13 August: Melbourne, Corner Hotel (sold out)(tickets from July 9 valid for this date)
Tickets via feelpresents.com Refunds are also available at the point of purchase for those who can't make the new dates.
There are obvious life lessons in the saga of the Sunnyboys and they’ve been related so many times that they probably don’t bear repetition here. If you’re a fan, you’ll know them all anyway (the results of crashing and burning, the enduring nature of brotherly bonds, the power of redemptive love.) If you’re not, you can wise up, musically speaking, with this collection.
Going in with open ears and no expectations, this unassuming album is a revelation. It launched with little fanfare and was spoken about online but was unheard by these ears until after a copy was pressed into my hands backstage at a gig.
Somebody said it was country. A little. It's copped a flogging on the CD player. It’s mostly warm and breezy blues-pop, from a husband and wife duo, one of whom you might know in their other guise.
The Bils are Bil and Michelle Bilson. They play everything between them (guitars, bass, keys and drums) and share vocals. Bil’s other gig is drumming with reincarnated Australian power-pop legends the Sunnyboys. He also played with The (Sunnyboys-related) Sparklers and the gloriously acid punk Doctor Stone. Can’t confess to knowing Michelle’s musical pedigree but it doesn’t much matter. The back story’s not as important as what's going on at the front-of-house.
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