Archive for the ‘Best Gigs The Rockbrat’s Seen ?’ Category

Dio blitz London in December 1993

Twenty odd years back – me and the Cowboy were off to the witch one chilly December evening at the old Hammy Odeon in London. I am truly blessed to have seen Ronnie James Dio live on more than one occasion and he is sorely missed. Ronnie’s amazing and instantly recognisable vocals really defined – for me – what rock n roll/hard rock/HM was all about. Since the time of our last encounter (Sydney 1986) – I had obviously consumed hundreds of more rock shows, bought new albums and digested newer bands. But I never ever forget who the giants of rock n roll were – Ronnie James Dio being one of them – and on Sunday 12th December 1993 I was at a stage in life where I could truly appreciate seeing him and his band do what they do best. Support band was Freak Of Nature led my Mike Tramp – unrecognisable from the big-haired, Harley-riding pouter I remember fronting White Lion – and they were tolerable. Not all that memorable either ! I can probably recall more about the ‘open’ kebab from the local greasy take-away which would’ve ended the evening than anything about Freak of Nature. Apologies Mr Tramp. Between band sets I do recall an announcement over the PA for ‘members of the UK Dio Fan Club to gather at some meeting point’. Ahhhh – rock bands don’t do it like that anymore. Ronnie loved his fans and it was an evening to cherish.  He kicked off with long time set opener Stand Up and Shout – surely one of the most iconic rock tunes to open a show – (and for what it’s worth, no lead player nailed it as well as the long departed Vivian Campbell, but I digress). All the Dio/Rainbow/Sabs favourites, along with stuff from the Strange Highways record (which he was touring) – like Jesus Mary & The Holy Ghost , Evilution and the title track got an airing. Set staples Don’t Talk to Strangers, The Mob Rules, Children of the Sea, Holy Diver, Heaven and Hell, Man on the Silver Mountain and The Last in Line got blasted, and the hordes lapped it up. Read those song titles again which I just mentioned. Astounding. This was a master class of hard rock – and Dio always delivered the goods.  Ronnie’s band had Pilson from Dokken in there  (Jimmy Bain was apparently fired earlier in the year), and also Tracey G (what have we told you about guys with chicks names ?!). I seem to remember  ‘G’ screwing up the intro on one of the songs and the rock n roll wizard giving him the evil eye ! ha !  The younger Appice was once again perched on the drum stool and gave a flawless display – but I am not going to mention the unnecesary drum solo…zzzzz..  Encores were Rainbow in the Dark and We Rock. You cannot get two better set closers. Talk about being drunk on rock. All in all this was a fun night of rock and it is hard to believe it occurred two decades back. The great man may be gone, but his music lives on. and WHAT a back catalogue of riches he left behind. Dio’s lyric in The Last in Line really does ring true when thinking of nights like this – “the magic that we’ll feel is worth a lifetime”. Where’s my wax copy of Strange Highways got to ? Time to re-travel that road I think….


Get Flared Concert Ad 7 4 90In 1990 (in Sydney at least), there was a revival of sorts, of some of Australia’s seventies bands, including JPY, TMG, William Shakespeare etc. Looking back, I think this in part was due to a couple of things.  One was the prevalence of cover bands like Bjorn Again and the start of the whole Abba revival, and second, was due in part to Sydney DJ Maynard F# Crabbes, a radio presenter on JJJ. Maynard’s shtick was being into things that were decidedly uncool, or ‘daggy’, to coin the apt phrase. Dressed like an archetypal nerd, he even called himself the ‘King Of Dag’. Anything daggy was cool right? So of course, some Aussie rock bands of the 70’s fell neatly under his dag radar, more so due to their fashion sense than anything else no doubt.  So Maynard built up quite a profile for himself, and used to DJ and host dance parties etc. One such event he MC’d was a night at Sydney’s Coogee Bay Hotel (one of my least favourite venues) called ‘Get Flared”. (Didn’t Hush have a jingle tune of this name, for Colonial Jeans in the early 70’s? Hang on, where my Skylab helmet? Some of my ants have escaped.) Being a devotee of Aussie rock and Ted fans, Mr. Rockbrat and I went along show some respect, the sole reason to see TMG. Armed with my trusty tape recorder, I bootlegged TMG’s 30 minute set, which included a great version of ‘Naturally’ and a surprising version of Fogerty’s ‘Rockin’ All Over The World’. Was Gary Dixon there ? Did he play in any of these reunion shows ?  Most of the other acts were fairly lacklustre, although JPY was pretty good from memory. JPY’s big revival would come two years later due to “Love Is in the Air”, being the theme song for the film Strictly Ballroom, and the massive amount of exposure generated as a result. He got a second throw of the dice. It was only a few short years before this that he was singing theme songs to Australia’s Wonderland theme park. (Have you still got that Rockbrat?) I recall seeing him  one forgetful occasion in 1988 at North Sydney’s late night meat market pick up den, Sheila’s, with several single, leathery old bags on the prowl for drunken romance. Anyway, I digress. The other acts ? I can’t really recall. I think that Bjorn Again headlined the event. I’m pretty sure that poor old William Shakespeare, may he rest in peace, was happy just to be up there singing his two god awful hits, and thankfully he didn’t disgrace himself by dressing up like a purple sequined lizard-like Liberace as  he did in the early 70s. I also recall seeing an old TMG fan in the crowd wearing a satin TMG concert jacket, chatting with Herm Kovac. The other clear memory I have of the Get Flared night was seeing a very awkward looking Bumble Bee donning a full length, blond wig. FMD – sexual orientation issues anyone? With those cherubic cheeks, and looking very much like a pint sized Agnetha in drag, I’d prefer to recollect the only highlight of the night, TMG’s rockin’ 30 minutes set. Attached is an audio clip of the TMG, performing ‘Naturally’, live at Selinas, on the 7th of April, 1990. Never been heard anywhere. From the Rockbrat archives. Enjoy!  Listen here  



ImageWho: Iron Maiden
When: Sydney 23 October 1992

This was Maiden’s third visit downunder (1982, 1985) and seven years was WAY too long to wait for another tour. The musical landscape had shifted a great deal since Maiden’s previous tour. Heavy Metal was still pretty much underground in Australia in 1985, though acts like Bon Jovi, would – over the next couple of years, make hard rock more listenable to mainstream teens. So as enjoyable as it was to have Iron Maiden back in Oz, there was less excitement attached to it as say in the mid-80’s when HM was definitely had an ‘us against them’ feel to it. An identity. But I digress…Sydney outfit Judge Mercy opened proceedings for this show and were – as they always were – tight and on form. They were not doing anything too dissimilar to AC/DC-worshipping acts like the Screaming Jets or Poor Boys, and although they pounded the local live circuit – never broke through, which was a shame.  Main man Andy Cichon – well respected session player and former Rosie Tatt – would later perform with Shania Twain and Billy Joel. Maiden were touring as support of their ‘Fear Of The Dark’ album, which – at the time – didn’t really do much for me. ‘Be Quick Or Be Dead’ was not a great choice for first single, but songs like the title track are now bonafide Maiden classics. Although the record went to number one in their homeland, it stalled at eleven here in Australia. Quite a feat considering the rock world was lost in a sea of Seattle grunge and stoner-type dross. It was comporting at the time (still is) to know that Maiden were around.  Vocalist Bruce Dickinson’s time in the band would soon be up – and it would be another eight years before I saw him live with Iron Maiden once again. If there was tension between him and other band members, I cannot recall seeing any that night – and he jumped around and was as classy as he always is. Overall it was a great show and with new boy Janick Gers filling Smithy’s shoes, the band were very impressive. A great gig to look back and remember fondly.

Set List:

Be Quick or Be Dead
The Number of the Beast
From Here to Eternity
Wasting Love
The Evil That Men Do
Afraid to Shoot Strangers
Fear of the Dark
The Clairvoyant
Heaven Can Wait
Run to the Hills
2 Minutes to Midnight
Iron Maiden
Hallowed Be Thy Name
The Trooper

Here are a couple of items from the last Billy Thorpe gig I attended. Friday 24 August, 2001 was the date, the venue was the Yallah Woolshed, in Yallah (not far from Albion Park) in the Illawarra. I have a few memories  of the night, though not as many as I can recall. If I had of known it would be the last time I saw Thorpie, I would have savoured every moment. Alas, hindsight again. I do recall that Screaming Jets bass player Paul Woseen was in his band, as was Pig Morgan on keyboards. Thorpie was blazing away, as you’d expect, on lead guitar. At the end of the gig, I managed to have a quick word to Thorpie, who also signed a CD for me (see photo). Unfortunately I accidentally smudged the signature by shoving it into my jacket pocket before it has dried, but it says, “To Col, Keep Rockin’, Billy Thorpe”. Pretty cool sentiment from the great man. I still think so. I gave him a CD copy of the first volume of ‘Rock n Roll War’ released on my old label Vicious Kitten Records, and spoke briefly about Pete Wells, who was on the album. Great night, great memories, now over ten years ago. Keep Rockin Thorpie…..

"To Col, Keep Rockin, Billy Thorpe"

Thursday 5th of December, 1991 was the date – Canberra’s rock institution The ANU was the venue. Cowboy Col was so devoted that he drove down the Hume from Sydney to Canberra to see legendary Stooge Ron Asheton at the ANU. The fact that The Lime Spiders and Hitmen DTK opened the show meant that this was quite a trifecta. The Rockbrat and I were big fans of the Spiders ‘Beethovens Fist’ LP and always made the effort to catch them live around this time.  I can’t remember much of the set list, but I did recently find a gig advert for the show, so thought I’d share it. The night was not complete without a sate ‘meal’ from the old double decker bus to wash down the Tooheys New, and that over  with, my ears were left ringing after again being destroyed – this time by the great Ron Asheton. Almost 19 years ago to the day. Great days my friends…….

Rob Younger through the Rockbrat lens

Who: Radio Birdman  When: Sands Hotel, Narrabeen, Sydney, January 10, 1996

The Narrabeen Sands Hotel, on Sydney’s northern beaches, was the venue for the first ‘official’ date of the much anticipated Birdman reunion tour – and I could indeed whiff the smell of anticipation, blended with a large dose of excitement as I entered the doors of the old Royal Antler. Needless to say, by the time the band strode onto the stage – which was cloaked in red and black – the joint was packed and jumping. The opening bars of ‘Hand Of Law’ churned the soul and it was evident that Younger, Tek and co. weren’t here to disappoint. A mean workout of ‘Burn My Eye’ was next and few, if any, prisoners were taken. ‘Smith and Wesson Blues’ was delivered with maximum ferocity to an eager and hungry audience. “Where were you when we needed you ?” a band member asks the big crowd, with direct reference to a bygone era. Good question. The stinging guitar intro of ‘Hanging On’ cuts finely through the air – Masuak and Tek are in fine form tonight and their playing is razer sharp. A rollicking version of ‘455 sd’ followed, setting limbs in motion. ‘Descent Into The Maelstrom’ was pure sorcery, impressing the socks off the peninsular surf set to boot. Rob’s handling of ‘Love Kills’ was rare, vintage stuff – to watch him swagger and sweat with the Birdman logo behind him this evening is proof that dreams can sometimes come true. ‘Crying Sun’, ‘Anglo Girl Desire’, ‘What Gives’….when a band can get up and deliver songs of such calibre with such velocity after a near twenty year hiatus, the legend and myths can only loom larger. Birdman ’96 would be the first reformation/comeback in recent history that could honestly be dubbed a success – a significant achievement indeed. The fire and intent pumping through ‘i.94’ was enough to discourage even the most jaded and cynical of doubters – besides, any song that name checks Eskimo Pies and Rolling Rock is apples with me. ‘Murder City Nights’ meant business too, Klondike and Deniz demonstrating that there were no pseudo musicians in this lot. Encore ‘Aloha Steve and Danno’ was more than a moment always worth savouring – the waxheads going truly mental. ‘New Race’, the call to arms for rock n roll soldiers everywhere continued the frenzied mayhem. ‘Breaks My Heart’, ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ and ‘T.V Eye’ were the second batch of encores, winding up a truly momentous evening. Younger, Masuak, Tek, Hoyle, Keeley and Gilbert; they came back, they didn’t suck – a rockin’ good time had by all !  (originally published in Vicious Kitten fanzine in 1995)

The much missed Pete Wells and Mick Cocks

Who: Peter Wells  When: Britannia Hotel, Sydney, April 23, 1995

The venue for tonight’s gig is the Britannia Hotel in South Sydney, in recent times proving itself to be one of Sydney’s better blues / country pubs. Despite it being a Sunday night, plenty of punters have dragged themselves out of TV land and prove to be quite a receptive crowd. It has to be remembered that essentially Rose Tattoo played heavy blues. Gut wrenching rock n roll, but blues none the less. The 1995 version of Peter Wells follows a similar script, although nowadays he’s playing blues / hard rock of the highest calibre. assembled before us tonight are Peter Wells on slide guitar and lead vocals, Lucy De Soto on keyboards and vocals, Mick Cocks on rhythm guitar, Chris Turner on bass and Paul Demarco (aka Fred Zepplin) on drums. Quite simply, Peter Wells is one of the best bluesmen this country has to offer. His guitar playing is so unique and original, that he is unrivalled. He is a show all on his own. His imposing presence on a stage is a sight to behold. THE original six foot illustrated man towering down on you captures your attention, and sucks you in, but it’s the music which blows you away and keeps you coming back for more. 
The set opener is the aptly titled ‘Where It All Begins’, a straight down the line hard rock boogie tune, chock full of blistering slide guitar from the man who plays it best. Lucy De Soto’s golden tones compliment Wells’ harsh gravel like vocals superbly, and if this is where it all begins, then the crowd are in for one helluva shindig here tonight ! The band shuffles through on ‘Jungle’, and then slides comfortably into ‘Between The Saddle And The Ground’ from the ‘Everything You Like Tries To Kill You’ album, released back in 1990. This song is a classic. Catchy riff, catchy chorus and always a crowd pleaser, as was once again proven here tonight. ‘Crisis Point Casino’ is a highlight. recently lifted as the first single off the new album ‘Orphans’, it represents the stunning quality of Wells’ song writing. A hard hitting up beat song which tells the tale of love gone wrong, it drips of Wells’ distinctive slide, yet it’s the eerie sounding keyboards that wash over the vocals which make the song stand out. definite hit single material here, and at the time of going to press this single was at number 39 with a bullet in Switzerland ! Wells delivers one great song after another. ‘No Hard Feelings’ and ‘Nothing Wrong With Money’ are both delivered with ferocious intensity. Rockin’ good numbers you just can’t help but tap your foot or nod your head to the captivating beat. And then it happened. The band found another gear. Man, Lucy De Soto really sings her heart out on ‘No Second Chances’. This girl CAN sing ! Her delightful yet powerful vocals leave me gasping for air like a fish out of water, and then Wells delivers the knockout blow, ‘Rock n Roll Outlaw’. Who else can play it better then the two Tatts axemen ? The illustrious Mick Cocks really comes into his own now, and shares the spotlight with his tattooed brother. This song is still killer and tonight it is executed with all the brutality of an angry wild boar. ‘Let’s Do It All Again’ finishes the set, and as i make my way to the back of the bar I’m content in the knowledge that rock n roll of such good quality is still alive. If only more people could hear it.  There is a lot to like about Peter Wells rock n roll. He kinda reminds me of Keith Richards or Ron Wood in a lot of ways. The genuine article, 100% quality. No cheap imitation here tonight either. If you are a blues, hard rock, or country music fan, you’re definitely going to find something you like about Peter Wells live. THE original rock n roll outlaw is back and ‘Orphans’ represents his finest release to date. This could be big people. (originally published in Vicious Kitten fanzine in 1995)