Up on the stage, it’s as hot as Hades. Homemade Sin are working hard – and sweating buckets. ‘Can we turn on the Night Ranger?’ asks Dan Baird, referring to the big fan in the corner that if turned on will give the band the big hair look of Jack Blades & co. “I’ll end up with Bon Jovi hair”, chuckles Warner Hodges. The band are in a good mood and the crowd are into it. The temperature is cooled, but its gonna take more than an exhaust fan to cool rock ‘n’ roll this hot. Welcome to the world of Dan Baird rock ‘n’ roll.
Having lived in the Balmain area in the late 1980s, I’d seen some good gigs in a number of pubs in this area- but tonight’s show trumps ‘em all. From the Gladesville Tavern to the now derelict eye-sore that is Balmain Leagues and of course, the Bridge Hotel, which over a period of years now has become of bit of a torch bearer for real rock ‘n’ roll. Arriving at the venue in time to catch Sydney up and comers, Release The Hounds, there are a hard-core of fans in tow to eat up their brand of blue collared/no frills rock n roll. Reference points are AC/DC & Rose Tattoo, and with a set of catchy, original hard rocking tunes, these guys are on the rise and one band to look out for.
By the time Dan Baird & Homemade Sin hit the stage at 9.45 pm, the room has filled with a moderate but enthusiastic crowd keen to witness a couple of hours of unapologetic rock ‘n’ roll. Let’s also call it real rock n roll for unreal times. I’m at the bar charging my glass when Dan launches into the first chords of ‘Licka Sense’. I make my way to the front of the stage and position myself bang smack in front of the great Warner E Hodges. I never get tired of watching this cat play guitar, he is just so good, a showman and entertainer to boot. Speaking of boots – I notice he is wearing his distinct green cowboy boots and spurs. Like I’ve said on previous occasions, Hodges is cooler than Fonzie.
Dan Baird & Homemade Sin have been working with a set list for a month and a half- yet tonight, no set list. Dan is selecting the songs as he goes. It’s gonna be a fun night! There is an enthusiastic crowd response and the band feed off it. These guys consistently deliver the goods show after show – and set a high benchmark for themselves to deliver the best show they can. Tonight is no exception. Go search for any of their performances on youtube – you won’t find any dud performances their friends. Top shelf. Always.
From a 110 minute set there’s many highpoints – with a mix of new songs and old given an airing. Aside from ‘Licka Sense’, there are a bunch of tunes performed from the new album, ‘Rollercoaster’, and all sound hot. There’s ‘Love Gone Wong’, a rollicking ‘Shake It Til Its Sore’, the big hitting swagger of ‘Knocked Out Cold’, and the Zeppelinesque/Bad Company cross that is ‘Can You Hear Me Now’. Hodges is let loose on this one and is a joy to behold – and hear. What a tune. Shredding with feel – like no one else on the planet.
There is an absolute ball busting take of the epic ‘Crooked Smile’, from 2008’s debut ‘Homemade Sin’ album. This song is an out-and-out monster and reminds me of Neil Young jamming with Crazy Horse in the early 70s. The song belongs to Warner Hodges – and is quite possibly the best 10 minutes of rock n roll that you are ever likely to see. In this brief period he finesses, shreds, bends, motors, taps and still finds time to throw his Les Paul over his shoulder! If you want to know why Hodges is so good – go watch this on youtube. The rapturous response from the crowd tells me what I already knew – they got to see something just that little bit special. Why don’t more people know this song ? Go listen. It’s beyond superlatives.
‘Two For Tuesday’ is another highlight – oozing Fogertyisms and complete with a few bars of ‘Proud Mary’ thrown in for legitimacy. This tune has hit single all over it and like many things Baird has penned, is a melodic sing along, catchy and memorable.
Keeping in mind that the band are without a set list, Hodges shows genuine delight when Dan launches into the first chords of ‘On My Way’, a deep cut off the superb Buffalo Nickel album. A technical issue sees him fixing his guitar rig mid song, yet the band never drop a note. An AC/DC devotee, Hodges tells the audience how Angus Young turned up at a Scorchers gig during their 1988 Australian tour and presented Warner with a wireless unit – which could have come in handy tonight! The band then launch into ‘Julie & Lucky’ and ‘I Love You Period’, both from 1992’s ‘Love Songs’ LP, the latter charting in Australia. Not to be outdone by Hodges, drummer Mauro Magellan performs running repairs on his hi-hat mid song – without missing a beat! The guys a pro – a monster drummer, and quite the artist too.
‘Movin’ Right Along’, another should have been classic from the ‘Get Loud’ album sounds great to my ears and gets the girls up and grooving. As does ‘Keep Your Hands To Yourself’, a song no doubt many punters came to hear, and who instead left hearing a truckload of other lesser known Baird classics as well. ‘Hands’ climbed all the way to Number Two on the Billboard Hot 100, and was denied the top spot by Bon Jovi’s ‘Living On A Prayer’. Turn that Night Ranger fan up to full!
The Satellites material sounds timeless – testament to the song writing. Its great to hear ‘Mon Cherie’ and ‘Hard Luck Boy’, both rippin’ tunes with Micke Nilsson thumping hard on bass and laying down the groove. He’s a bad-ass bass player, who continues to hold his own amongst his more illustrious and seasoned band mates.
Dan dedicates ‘Sheila’, to an old bandmate, Ginny Whittaker whom he played with in The Rabbits back in 1980. Only a couple days before, in an interview with The Australian Rock Show, Dan talked about aging and death, and how every day you open Facebook to hear of a notable passing. The moment is not lost on me.
The ultimate tribute/commentary to Carny folk, ‘Fairground People’ scores two thumbs up, before a punishing version of ‘Railroad Steel’ ends proceedings. What a killer set. For those that were there, this was 110 minutes of the best rock n roll you are ever likely to see. For those that weren’t, be sure to see the band on tour soon. The best rock n roll band in the world – without a shadow of a doubt – Dan Baird & Homemade Sin.
all images (c) Colin Gray/Cowboy Col.