Stray Cats

Author: EB

Stray Cats – Birmingham, 02 Academy – 23/06/2019

Support came from Aussie band The Living End with their rockabilly infused punk rock with frontman Chris Cheney greeting the audience with some comical banter, “if it wasn’t for The Stray Cats, you’d be watching some other shitty band, cos we wouldn’t be here” to which the crowd chuckle, although their impressive 40-minute set was far from “shitty”. Drummer Andy Strachan was outstanding and Scott Owen who continuously leapt up on to his double bass, which is considered his signature move, boasts quite possibly the fastest and most talented plucking hands in rockabilly history, alongside Lee Rocker of course. ‘Till The End’, ‘Death Of The American Dream’, ‘How Do We Know’ and the humorous ‘Uncle Harry (Pisses In The Bath)’ provide more than enough sing-along moments, and tunes you could shake your hips to, which perfectly warm up a crowd who clearly need no encouragement.

Fans scream and applaud as the original founding members of The Stray Cats, Brian Setzer (vocals, guitar), Lee Rocker (double bassist) and Slim Jim Phantom (drums), appear on stage which has a small and minimal setup and launch straight into ‘Cat Fight (Over A Dog like Me)’ and ‘Runaway Boys’. Still sporting their slick back hairdos and bandana neck scarfs just like they did throughout the 80s, they appear as ageless as their music. New track, ‘Three Times A Charm’ and old-favourite ‘Stray Cat Strut’ play through and with their unmistakable Stray Cats sound, the New Yorker rockers really have got the crowd worked up in to a frenzy. ‘Gene and Eddie’, ‘Cry Baby’, ‘(She’s) Sexy & 17’ and ‘Bring It Back Again’ which is sung by double bassist Lee Rocker, follow. Setzer is one of the most important rockabilly guitarists around today and really knows how to make his guitars sing, no guitar is better suited to rockabilly than the Gretsch and it’s around this time people might begin to understand why Setzer is a longstanding lover of them, aside from the fact that Eddie Cochran played one! Their set was nothing short of electrifying, as Lee Rocker insisted on standing upon, spinning and slapping the hell out of his double bass (you can see why he won the Bass Player Lifetime Achievement Award), Slim Jim who’s playing a really simple but effective kit, refusing to sit down for more than 5 minutes at a time, and Brian Setzer swinging his Gretsch around, eyes closed, with his infectious guitar licks alone making you want to get up and move. It’s really no wonder the room had been converted into a sweat box of bopping, jumping and rocking bodies. In Setzer’s own words “whatever gig you’re at tonight, it aint as cool as this” and damn he was right; with each of them going on 60, they were purring again as they managed to triumphally knock the socks off Birmingham O2 Academy. ‘Rock This Town’, ‘Rock It Off’ and ‘Rumble In Brighton’ close their set and it was very clear why these rockabilly legends are still very much relevant in the genre that started out more than four decades ago.

The Living End

Author: Helena Metzke

The Living End Launch new single in exclusive show

Aussie punk rock royalty, The Living End, convened at Collingwood’s Gasometer Hotel on Wednesday 20 June, for what was one hell of an exclusive show.

Launching their new single ‘Don’t Lose It’, The Melbourne-based trio treated fellow Melburnians and long-time fans to a zesty set, which featured yet to be released tracks.

Taking to the stage, guitarist and vocalist Chris Cheney exclaimed, “We didn’t come to play the old stuff… but we will”, much to audience members’ satisfaction. And with this being said, the boys proceeded to deliver track after track fan favourites, including What’s On Your Radio, Roll On, and Second Solution, while seamlessly blending in the sounds of new tracks.

In the highly intimate setting that is The Gasometer Hotel, the humour and energy that Chris [Cheney], Scott [Owen] and Andy [Strachan] brought with them as a collective, did not go unnoticed. Telling tales of their time spent recording in Berlin and staying in accommodation which resembled that of a urinal, the boys went back and forth between themselves, inviting the audience to interject. Suddenly I found myself standing in a quaint room, having a beer and a laugh with the beings which delivered the soundtrack of my childhood – or so it felt. The Living End have cemented themselves as one of the most beloved Aussie rock acts for some 20 years, and if new single ‘Don’t Lose It’ is anything to go by, the subsequent record will ensure the boys continue to spread the message of our local music to the world, for years to come.

The Living End

Author: Anna Rose

Taronga Zoo
Saturday March 4

“Let’s give thanks to the weather gods for making the rain stop,” cracked TheLiving End’s frontman Chris Cheney partway through his Taronga Zoo set. Indeed, an outdoors show in the middle of one the wettest weeks of the young year was never going to be the live experience the band’s fans are used to.

But it wasn’t just the weather that was altered: everything was different, from the venue to the audience demographic to the altered, family-friendly setlist. And yet did all that change serve a good show?

Smoke drowned the stage as the group kicked things off with ‘Moment In The Sun’, an ambient opener accompanied by a string quartet. But things soon got heavier as ‘Lookin’ Out My Back Door’ merged into ‘Raise The Alarm’.

That said, Taronga Zoo quickly proved to be the wrong venue for a group of The Living End’s ilk. Only the most diehard of the band’s fans squashed themselves against the perimeter of the stage, forming an impromptu moshpit, while the rest of the audience remained huddled on picnic blankets.

The gig was uniformly too reserved, and the mood wasn’t exactly helped by a guest appearance from Josh Pyke. Joining The Living End for a couple of numbers, his music brought the tone of the show down immediately: only a few members of the crowd seemed to appreciate his presence, as smatterings of polite applause floated around as each song ended.

Though the nifty little bluegrass jam midset was impressive, it was one of the few moments in the evening where the bandr eally felt like themselves. Indeed, the energy only hit significant levels at the gig’s conclusion, when the End blasted through a Cold Chisel cover, ‘Rising Sun’, before closing with ‘Prisoner Of Society’. It was for those two songs that the middle-aged couples and their families shook off their hesitations to cheer and sing along, camping chairs be damned.

The Living End are a punk rock band, but at their Taronga Zoo show they seemed to brush closer to pop, meandering through a tame performance defined by a lack of the usual profanities and energy. Nonetheless, it was eventually an enjoyable show – but only by the final few songs.

The Living End, Bad//Dreems, 131’s

Author: Maxine Gatt

Forum Theatre
23 Jun

Forum Theatre is packed to the brim with anticipation for Australia’s punk rock masters, The Living End. Kicking things off for tonight’s sold out show is Melbourne punk outfit 131’s who do a great job of warming up the staunch crowd. Lead singer Luke Yeoward looks like he’s straight out of London’s Camden Town: bright red mohawk, tatts and chains. It’s an explosive mix of pop melodies and punk rock riffs and the heavy influence of the headliners is apparent throughout this opening band’s set.

Garage-punk quartet Bad//Dreems stumble onto the stage with their loose antics and pub-rocker attitude, which proves a sharp contrast to their tight instrumental work. Even though lead singer Ben Marwe’s harsh diction is unclear at times, he makes up for it with the way his vocals bend around the alternative riffs. They sound like a rough version of The Clash with some ‘90s Seattle rock elements blended in.

The lights dim and we hear a guitar lick from the shadows, which sets off frantic cheers and flailing limbs. Through the haze of smoke, Chris Cheney jumps out and runs straight to the mic, busting out recent single Monkey as we jump around like we’re back in high school. The Living End are explosive in their performance and it’s easy to see why this band has attracted a deafening buzz around them for decades. New songs from their latest album Shift are interwoven through a thunderous set of classic, road-hardened hits. You don’t need to be a fan to know which songs are the new ones; they stick out not only in sound but also in crowd participation. New track Staring Down The Barrel is a modern and evolved take on their signature sound. We soak up the new stompin’ tunes and rock out to the enormous hit catalogue in full nostalgic singalong mode. All the favourites such as All Torn Down, Pictures In The Mirror, White Noise are thrown in and Cheney’s non-stop riffage mesmerises. The powerhouse trio rips out Second Solution and the crowd turns into a frenzied singalong, while Scott Owen jumps up onto the ridge of his double bass, mid-song, and strums from this new angle with ease. We go mental for Prisoner Of Society and sing a whole chorus without Cheney having to chime in.

All good things must come to an end and we lap up the two song encore, How Do We Know and West End Riot. Cheney leaps onto Owen’s bass and belts out a guitar solo while balancing up on the instrument. Back behind the mic, Cheney teases the crowd with a version of Born To Be Wild before cutting it at the chorus. “No, we’re not doing it!” he says and finishes the set with one more chorus of West End Riot. We’re blown away, not for the first time and hopefully not for the last.

The Living End

Author: Cassie Hedger


Even the coldest day of year, snowing in some non alpine regions of the state, couldn’t put a dampener on The Living End’s last show on the Melbourne leg of The Shift Tour. Luckily, the sold out Forum was heated and the beer was flowing.

The 131s are a newly formed Melbourne punk group. Seeming chuffed to be there, the sleeve disliking boys arrived on stage, ready to warm up the frostbite riddled crowd. Lead singer Luke Yeoward has a near perfect voice for this level of punk, gritty enough that you believe he’s lived through some shit, yet also melodic enough to give the songs real emotional power. By the end of the set the guys had the crowd chanting along, well and truly won over.

Adelaide boys Bad//Dreems took to the stage and, after letting table 54 know their chips were ready, the familiar sounds of new single Hiding To Nothing started up. Not really knowing what to expect from these guys really made them all the more impressive to see. With the audience decidedly warmed up by now, it was time to welcome the reason everyone had braved the cold in the first place.

On tour to promote their latest album Shift, The Living End kicked things off with their new single Monkey, quickly followed by the much older hit Second Solution. “It’s been nearly 20 years, don’t pretend you don’t know the words,” joked lead singer and guitarist Chris Cheney.

Through the course of the set the boys pulled out a widespread mix of tunes from their vast discography. There were lesser known tracks like Hold Up and all time classics like West End Riot and Uncle Harry. No matter if you’re a diehard fan or a casual one, The Living End always deliver incredible high-energy shows.

LOVED: The almost riot that broke out in the pit during Prisoner of Society.
HATED: Lack of VB related guitar antics.
DRANK: and drank and drank.

The Living End, Bad//Dreems, 131’s

Author: Deborah Jackson

Enmore Theatre
11 Jun

One of Australia’s greatest living rock bands, The Living End, proved they’ve still got it Saturday night as they tore up the Enmore Theatre stage to launch their latest album Shift.

Ahead of the headliners were tattooed Melbournian punk rockers 131’s. A band still in its infancy, it’s clear that these guys are starting to build some real momentum, with hits like This Ain’t Culture. Adelaide rockers Bad//Dreems followed and brought a bevy of groupies with them.

But, it wasn’t until Chris Cheney, Scott Owen, and Andy Strachan took the stage that shit really got loose. There was a significant shift in atmosphere as soon as the boys struck their first chord, surrounded by a dramatic smoke and lights display, sending the crowd into a state of mayhem.

Cheney riled up the crowd, saying: “It’s time for the people on the floor to put on a little show for the people upstairs. You’ve only got one life so make it count — you’re at a fucking rock’n’roll show so go nuts.”

And the crowd obeyed as an aggressive mosh pit broke out in the centre of the floor and didn’t let up until the boys struck their final chord.

As bodies were flying and people were crowd surfing to the sounds of Second Solution, a man in a black hoodie managed to get his way up onto the stage to dance beside Strachan, completely unbeknownst to the securiy guard directly in front of him.

While there was no denying the crowds enthusiasm for the classic The Living End songs from their youth, songs from new album Shift had darkness and a rawness that had the crowd going wild.

The guys finished the night with an encore of How Do We Know, West End Riot and Carry Me Home, with Cheney delivering an impressive guitar rift while balancing on Owen’s double bass.

The White Album

Author: Rory McCartney

The Canberra Theatre
Tuesday July 22

Officially entitled ‘The Beatles’ but universally known as The White Album, the double LP was recorded in a fragmented atmosphere (with many songs lacking the participation of all four Beatles). In 2009, 41 years after its release, four of Australia’s finest – You Am I’s Tim Rogers, Josh Pyke, Chris Cheney of The Living End and Grinspoon frontman Phil Jamieson – brought it back to life. Now they were back again to play the whole lot in track order.

The 17 piece backing setup was impressive, with brass, strings and two drum kits. The gear was picked to match the album cover too, with white baby grand and black and white drums. The show kicked off with a jet plane sample as Cheney let loose with ‘Back in the U.S.S.R.’, before Jamieson followed up with the gentler ‘Dear Prudence’. Jamieson, Cheney and Pyke joined forces for ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ before Rogers made his first appearance in a truly shocking checked suit for ‘Wild Honey Pie’. He had no guitar to do windmills with, but did the next best thing with his tambourine. It was a bizarre feeling at first, seeing these legends in a kind of super karaoke. However, that feeling passed quickly as the four guys and their backing band were so into the songs and the fun of the event. With 30 songs in two sets to get through, there was no mucking about and a continual swapping over between singers, with occasional participation by all four at once.

Each of the stars brought his own style to the show. Jamieson, in dinner jacket and bow tie, camped it up in the first half, but came back full of attitude and high kicks after the interval. Pyke was the cool crooner, while Cheney was the guitar wielding straight rocker. Rogers played the rascal, becoming increasingly more disheveled as the night wore on, although he returned in the second half looking cool in tropical white. He was also the comedy relief and spokesman for the main players, with his most telling comment being that they were not there for nostalgia, they were there for the joy of the songs and delivering them with a lot of love.

Jamieson was the most mobile, wandering through the backing band, draping himself on them and, to the misgivings of the audience, overselected members of the crowd. He was super flexible, banging out the big notes in ‘Yer Blues’ and mincing about for ‘Honey Pie’ (it was a long way from Grinspoon’s ‘Dead Cat’). Cheney showed his stuff with the wailing, drawn out guitar solo in ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ and rocked out in ‘Helter Skelter’, playing a guitar laid flat on the floor before throwing it high for a catch. Rogers shone out with his extravagant, theatrical style, with a fake pistol (complete with ‘bang’ flag) against his head for ‘Happiness Is a Warm Gun’, then dancing around a plastic pig mask during ‘Piggies’. Pyke’s biggest moments were in ‘Julia’ and ‘Blackbird’; songs just made for his smooth vocals.

The backing band, led by musical director Rex Goh, flexed its muscles presenting the experimental instrumental ‘Revolution 9’, with its clouded vocal effects, before all four blokes returned. The encore served up ‘A Day in the Life’, from the ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ album and a reprise of ‘Revolution1’. At the end, a small boy went on stage to dance and sing along with the band. Boosted onto the piano by Jamieson, he was so good that it was hard to believe that it wasn’t a set-up. However, a gob smacked Rogers assured us of its genuine spontaneity.

The White Album Concert

Author: Chris Martin

Sydney Opera House
Sunday July 20

They may not quite be Australia’s Fab Four, but there’s plenty of star power in the air when Tim Rogers, Chris Cheney, Phil Jamieson and Josh Pyke get together. They’re touring (once again) their tribute to The Beatles’ self-titled 1968 release colloquially known as The White Album, and the Sydney Opera House has filled four times over for the occasion.

It’s a surprise, therefore, to witness a docile crowd welcoming Cheney with only muted applause for ‘Back In The U.S.S.R.’. There a few key songs that were always bound to define this project as a success or failure, and the McCartney penned opener is one of them. So is ‘Dear Prudence’, led by Jamieson, which despite the 18 musicians onstage for this rendition, gets nowhere near the shimmering magnificence of the original. And it takes two drummers to do what Ringo did by himself 46 years ago.

The first real wave of enthusiasm spreads across the Concert Hall for ‘Ob-La-Di,Ob-La-Da’ – as a song, it’s one of The Beatles’ worst kitschy crimes, but it’d be unfair to deny the fun that it creates for this audience. Cheney, Jamieson and Pyke share the stage for this one, before the self-appointed rock star of the group makes his arrival in Rogers.The You Am I frontman seems to insist that his hungover monologue is the one consistent presence that ties the whole show together, but frankly, his bravado act gets tiresome.

Not so Cheney’s, as ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ lifts much of the audience to its feet. As ever, some of The Beatles’ songs sit better in certain hands than others, and Cheney’s treatment of George Harrison’s tune (and Eric Clapton’s solo) is exultant. Pyke is a natural fit for the softer tracks – ‘Blackbird’ and ‘Mother Nature’s Son’ especially – while Jamieson seems happy to ham things up, so it’s fair enough that he gets ‘Don’t Pass Me By’.

By no means is The Beatles a flawless album – even the most popular group in musical history made its mistakes – but this all-Australian ensemble does a commendable job in reflecting the source material fairly. It’s just a shame that The Beatles never actually get a mention in all the self-congratulation that goes on here. Still, the Rogers/Cheney/Jamieson/Pyke group could do worse than tour Rubber Soul or Abbey Road, perhaps – because if all those songs haven’t yet grown dated, they won’t anytime soon.

The White Album Concert

Author: Annelise Ball

Hamer Hall
15 Jul

Well dressed baby boomers dominate the crowd gathering in Hamer Hall’s multi-level foyers. The White Album Concert brings The Beatles’ seminal double album back to life 44 years post-release thanks to the talents of Tim Rogers, Chris Cheney, Phil Jamieson and Josh Pyke. Cheney’s punk-rock credentials blast the set open with Back In The U.S.S.R. and Glass Onion while Jamieson charms wearing a big bow tie and singing the wistful Dear Prudence. All take part in the crazy Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, with Pyke giving Cheney a blokey, footy-style tap on the bum before walking off once the job is done.

Rogers takes on the early run of wacky, acid-trip tracks dressed in a fetching tweed suit. The timeless While My Guitar Gently Weeps then shifts the tone to moving, all-encompassing intensity. Cheney fills in admirably for Eric Clapton for the compelling lead guitar solo and receives a massive response from the crowd. Pyke successfully maintains total coolness while singing the twee Martha My Dear, but perhaps shows his true feelings when tossing away the tambourine as he walks off. He later recovers by nailing the fingerpicking acoustic beauty of Blackbird.

Helter Skelter is an early highlight from the second side, with two wailing guitarists, double drum kits and Cheney’s ripping guitar solo making huge amounts of awesome noise. Later, Cheney almost misses the start of Savoy Truffle but redeems himself by chucking Cadbury Favourites into the crowd. Two drummers keep perfect time as they bash their kits in mirror image during this rhythmic track. Avant-garde shit gets real with Revolution 9 – a track so trippy and multi-layered that musical director Rex Goh steps up to conduct. Gorgeous lullaby Good Night, greatly improved by the merciful absence of Ringo Starr’s vocals, sees all four artists on stage together to bid us farewell. Rogers whispers, “Goodnight,” and then, “let’s go fuck shit up” – a suggestion that’s probably not often heard on the Hamer Hall stage.

A Day In The Life, an imposter track from Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, lets the rock orchestra loose with its signature instrumental rise to the top of the scales while triumphant octaves crash below. Random punters are hauled up on stage to join the fun during Revolution 1, forcing Jamieson to defend himself against an enthusiastic older lady who tries to pinch his mic. The White Album Concert is definitely the best aural acid trip through the swinging ‘60s you can score.