Fresh Oz Rawk Served To Hungry Undergrads
Author: Kelsey Munro
Roundhouse, June 8
“We want End! We want End!,” went the chant before the show; neither, as you’d be forgiven for thinking, an expression of grammatically challenged impatience nor unanimous late-teenage nihilism.
It was of course, The Living End, the Melbourne three-piece, latterly more often seen plugging their wares round America than these parts, home (sort of) for a triumphant round of shows. With a Roundhouse chock full of jubilant undergrads to welcome them, the boys were in fine form.
As Tim Rogers has reportedly noted, that guy from The Living End can really play. He could’ve been talking about any one of them. Most likely he meant singer-guitarist Chris Cheney, who knows his way around a screaming old-school solo or three and displays a tendency to casually toss in fabulous Angus Young-style licks between verses.
They kicked off with the anthemic crowd primer, Roll On, Scott Owen perched on top of his chequered double bass, drummer Travis Demsey playing big and flashy, pounding from a great height, sending several young blokes near me into apparent full bliss.
Pausing to mark his approval of the recent vote for Friday on My Mind as Australia’s greatest pop song, Cheney careered into Pictures in the Mirror, which along with West End Riot and Riot on Broadway, both big crowd sing-alongs, represent probably the extreme manifestations of the band’s British music obsession (the Clash, The Who).
Much of the newer material has an undefinable but unmistakable antipodean flavour, something in the chords – not to mention the politics – of the excellent Revolution Regained and Don’t Shut the Gate invoking Midnight Oil, AC/DC and Rose Tattoo era Oz-rawk while remaining irresistibly catchy and fresh.
Their huge early hit, Prisoner of Society, remains for my money disappointing from a band that can do a lot better than repackage poor-little-white-kid my parents-don’t-understand ’90s punk cliches, but it got the best response at the Roundhouse.
The avowedly silly, straight-up drinking songs, Carry Me Home, and bawdy Uncle Harry, had blokes in the house hugging each other, but still showed up the half-joking Creedence Clearwater Revival cover, Looking Out My Back Door, that Cheney threw in towards the end.
And by the time in the set when by rights a band with only two albums should have exhausted all their good songs Dirty Man and All Torn Down sounded good as ever. Roll on indeed.