The Living End

Author: Clare Butterfield

The Living End / Hunting Grounds / King Cannons
Wednesday September 7

The Living End are an amazing band. Whether you like their music or not you have to appreciate their technical abilities. Between Chris Cheney’s fingers dancing up and down his guitar, Scott Owen swinging the double bass around as if it were as light as a bass guitar and Andy Strachan providing rhythmic and at times frenetic drumbeats, the music produced is nothing short of impressive.

But people don’t go to see The Living End to appreciate their technical abilities. They go to rock out to the fast-paced punk rock they know and love. The band started with some material from their new album The Ending is Just the Beginning Repeating and the audience almost half-heartedly joined in. It wasn’t until Cheney uttered the words “We’re going to play a bit of an older one now,” that the audience really got moving.

It was an odd demographic at the ANU Bar. There were the obligatory drunk uni students near the bar and at the front, however a lot of the audience was made up of much older people. Indeed the average age appeared to be nearer to 40 in some parts of the room. As a 27-year-old who’s been a fan of the band since their Second Solution/Prisoner of Society double A side, this seemed weird. However, on reflection, it made sense. Cheney is 36 now, so when he was a 22-year-old singing about being a brat, doing things on his own and not listening to anything people say – he spoke to a generation of 22-year-olds. Those 22-year-olds are now near 40-year-olds, and were eager to see the band that wrote the soundtrack to their younger days.

Cans of Jim Beam or Bundy in hand, the audience enjoyed an hour and a half of The Living End’s music from all of their albums. Despite seeming a little bit too old to be singing some of the lyrics of their older songs, you have to respect a band who knows what the audience wants, and gives it to them. Having seen Oasis not play Wonderwall and Eskimo Joe not play Sweater, it was refreshing to see the band play their older songs with as much passion as their newer ones. Far and away the most popular songs of the night were those from The Living End album, with the audience raising their fists and loudly singing along to Prisoner of Society, Second Solution, and All Torn Down. There was also huge excitement when the band started a cover of Run to Paradise and merged it seamlessly into Roll On.

There were a few issues with the sound equipment – at times Cheney’s lyrics could barely be heard over the rest of the band and roadies were constantly on the fringes of the stage, occasionally jumping on to adjust something or fix something else. This in no way detracted from the enjoyment of the night though.

The audience interaction consisted of a few comments about Canberra’s weather, staying in Kings Cross in Sydney (“Cause we’re still punk” according to Cheney), and a terrible dad joke when introducing the band. It was limited but enough to make the audience feel like they were part of the gig and not just there to see a CD played live.

Closing with West End Riot, the atmosphere was excited and a little bit punchy. It seemed that almost everyone in the room knew the words, the breakdown and even the key change (and what a key change it is! It was definitely the highlight of the gig for me – Ed.), as they sang along in unison. The Living End have matured without straying too far from their original ideals and last night’s gig made it obvious why they’re one of Australia’s most loved bands.