Sandringham Hotel, Sydney
June 24, 2011
Supports: Melody Black, Nat Col and the Kings
Reviewed by Brian Fischer-Giffin
Pix by Andrew Pittman
Opportunities like this don't come along very often anymore and may not ever again: the chance to catch one of Australia's greatest bands blasting out a full set of steamin' rock n roll in the confines of a small, intimate room, and it was no surprise that the House Full sign had gone up for both these shows a few days before the event.
Warming up the room tonight was Nat Col and the Kings, a fantastic hard-edged blues rock band. Led by Nathan Cavaleri, driven by the booming drumming of ex-Screaming Jet Col Hatchman and also featuring a bass player and chick backing vocalist, meaning one of the Kings is actually a Queen, the quartet served up a rock-solid, scorching set of classic heavy blues that showcased Cavaleri's BB King-influenced playing (not to mention his Hutchence-like appearance). Hatchman's sparse, unusual drum set-up also allowed him to show off his flashy style in a mid-set solo that brought bursts of applause from the crowd.
Melody Black seemed like the odd band out on the bill tonight, but any notion they were at the wrong gig would have melted away the moment they began. While their style might be more brash hard rock than raw heavy blues, it could be only the most cynical who would argue that they weren’t watching one great live act, with the songs to back it up. Stripping back the Gothic and electronic window-dressing of Leeno Dee and Johnathan Devoy’s previous bands and renewing Dee’s long association with Phil Bowley and Tubby Wadsworth, Melody Black combine catchy rock tunes with an entertaining and energetic performance, and they went down a treat.
I once wrote that Rose Tattoo is one of the greatest bar-room blues bands ever to draw breath. That statement is as true now as ever. As someone else once said, the Tatts aren’t so much a band as a gang, but really they’re even more than that: they are a force. A power. An embodiment of the true spirit of rock n roll. Once they hit the stage, nothing else matters until they’re done. They are lock-step tight and sounding mean.
Dai Pritchard’s singing slide guitar slahes across the jagged blues riffs of cuts like “Who’s Got the Cash?” and “Stand Over Man” and the eager, tightly-packed crowd chime in to help with the choruses of “Rock N Roll is King” and “One of the Boys”, which is dedicated to the memory of Downtime’s Billy Hughes; midway through the set they roll into the sinister slow groove of “The Butcher and Fast Eddy”. Out front, Angry Anderson doesn’t just engage the crowd, he embraces it like a friend or, rather, as he constantly refers to everyone, like brothers and sisters. He offers jokes about drinking mere water on stage and presents the new lead guitarist (whose name, in my post-inebriated haze, has eluded me) with a light-hearted jibe at Rockin’ Rob Riley’s expense. With an amusing snippet of wisdom or observation he introduces each song, then rips into them with a voice that like his band is one of sheer power. The Tatts are on fire. These are five guys who just know how to rock and roll together, an instinctive musical animal. Before anyone knows it almost ninety minutes have gone by and with but a brief exit from the stage they’re back, belting out “Rock N Roll Outlaw” and then finishing off with “We Can’t Be Beaten” that throws up a sea of fists from the audience. Even after that Rose Tattoo was ready to play on and in fact the next night they extended their set by another half an hour.
Inside the Sando’s tiny band room Rose Tattoo showed tonight why they are still one of the most revered underground rock n roll acts on the planet. The world will be a poorer place once they are playing stages no more.