The Morning Call

The Vines, Jet, The Living End, Neon

Author: Lan Righi

As The Vines came on stage Saturday night at Philadelphia’s Electric Factory, there was the usual whistling and cheering – and a not-so-subtle warning from a loud-mouth fan: “You better rock!” Indeed, if The Vines had been paying attention to the superheated opening sets by fellow Aussie acts The Living End and Jet, the admonition was as unnecessary as it was true.

So, did The Vines’ raw, psychedelic-tinged garage-rock measure up? Only partly. because the band’s greatest asset – singer-guitarist – cracked actor Craig Nicholls – proved its greatest liability. Numerous run-ins and wrestling matches with his microphone stand, leaps onto and from amplifiers, tossing his guitar at Hamish Rosser’s drum kit and spraying water on those closest to the stage were entertaining as rockshow antics go.

But his vocalizing, like his behavior, was erratic. For parts of several songs Nicholls’ substituted untrammeled braying and strangled-cat falsettoing for singing, undercutting the potent playing behind him. Despite Nicholls’ re-creations of primal scream therapy sessions, “Ride,” “She’s Got Something to Say,” “Highly Evolved,” “TV Pro” and “… the World” rocked as hard as anything that came before.

Jet turned its 70s hard-rock vibe into a sonic boom that sent heads spinning back to the heyday of The Who and AC/DC. The strongest moments of the foursome’s 11-song set were the hit single “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” the ballad “Look What You Have Done,” “Get What You Need” and a Ramones-ish “Take It or Leave It.”

Perhaps even more energetic was The Living End, a trio which has been around a few years longer than either The Vines or Jet, but just now getting noticed.

By expanding its punk and rockabilly roots to include the “new wave” sounds of the late 70s, The Living End was both tuneful and varied, rousing the rabble with live-wire renditions of “Tabloid Magazine,” “Torn Down,” “Hold Up” and “Second Solution.”

Opening act Neon’s pop-rock was competent, but, like the gas which the band is named after, inert.