A surprising diversity of women and performance

The ceiling and internal walls are painted black. The beams across the roof space are black. The pipes and cables, ducts and vents are all black. It is a coarse black, like a paint mixed with sand, light deadening black. One lateral wall is raw bluestone. Rough and light absorbing, dense cubed blue black cut rock chunks, mortared one on top of the other. But there is a small ray of light on the opposite side. A backlit bar of low yellow light filtering temptingly through glamorous bottles of spirits. They look inviting, sophisticated, sitting there on their top shelf, surrounded by sparkling, glistening, gleamingly clean glasses. It is a combination that speaks to many in the crowd. Pick me up, pour me out. Lift a glass, drink me down. Feel my calming warmth, my warming confidence. Dull your inhibitions, sharpen your connectivity, drink me toward carelessness, toward the fun side, toward letting yourself go.

There’s also a bit of a haze in the air. It’s incense. Maybe this is an atmospheric substitute for the cigarette and dope smoke of the good old days.

There is a lot of noise in here too. If a band isn’t playing, the mixing desk fills the room with sound. The bass is a palpable presence. I can’t find the melody. People are milling and chilling, hanging and slow dancing, like it is all some sort of discordant pagan ritual.

A new band is setting up. A pity for them that the previous band seems to have taken their crowd with them. Or else they have all gone out for a bit of smokey fresh air. I have no idea what is coming next. Just as I had no idea what went before. They were a group of young women playing synth rock in heavily modified bathing suits derived from the glam era. Their costumes were fashionalised using hi vis silvery satin in the form of a quilted one piece on the singer, as opposed to a high rise buttock displaying deep bikini brief, with a collared halter above and thigh high boots below, and including an elegant fascinator on the very top and across the face of the keyboard violinist. The latter appeared a bit like a layer cake of semi revealing fashion statements with plenty of skin in between. Theses two made their male drummer and relatively conservative female guitarist look tame.

They ran a concurrent fashion show en masse on the dance floor. Ten or so young women broadcast their fashion credentials to the audience with great enthusiasm. Designers were celebrated from the stage. It was an interesting combination of performance and presentation.

And now, the crowd is seriously thinning. It seems my $10 at the door is going to buy me quite an intimate next performance. The new band arcs up. Three young men of indifferent attitude. Except that they all have white plastic chains around their necks. The bass player looks a bit like Hagan. I take a second look. However, I hear his name is actually Matt Hayes. So, I conclude Hagan hasn’t been out band moonlighting after all. But it does take me back to more good old days, those of The High Suburban.

Oh, now this is getting interesting, three women have emerged from the taffeta, satin, chintz and chenille vulval gateway at the side of the stage. An Asian ethnic in customised white Buddhist(?) robes, a Caucasian ethnic in an over size t shirt and with a fringed veil across her eyes, an African ethnic in a Nigerian(?) style of shiny evening dress and shoulder strapped top that drops hanging panels of fabric vertically over her thighs. The African girl presents her peroxide crew cut capped face to the audience. She performs a musically accompanied monologue, then leaves the stage.

The music continues as she is followed by a procession of inter ethnic beauties who repeat the pattern of emerging from the vulval fabric gateway to perform individual dance solos on stage right. Their duration is of a few moments each, before stepping down into the crowd to continue some attractively sensual moves as writhing nymphs, each presenting diverse designer fashion statements to the room. The unexpected nature of the collective performance and sound is rather exotic.

The music is a sort of techno electro pop blend I guess. The Asian principal, Japanese I think, pumps a keyboard synthesiser and cuts on the violin. It turns out the veiled white with blonde curls is lead vocalist. She rocks and rolls while sliding and dialling up effects that expand the auditory spectrum. The backing keyboard player drapes his shoulder length dark hair across his face with every forward dip to the rhythm and then flicks it back again. His pale, lightly whiskered face against a black backdrop and above a black t shirt, bobs along in the background like the legendary bouncing ball of the good old days of cinema sing alongs. I can’t see the drummer, he is so low and set back on the stage, but they keep him working hard. Hold it, there he is. His head appears in a gap between the frontline surrounded by projected radiating laser light centred on his scone and pulsing outwards to infinity and beyond. At this point in time it is fair to say he is putting on a dazzling display. There is definitely a lot of energy on the stage.

The show continues as an interesting mix. There is clearly an acknowledgement of a dual discipline camaraderie going on here. I sense it is personal for most of the crowd. There is the enjoyable quality of hopeful up and comers, as yet inexperienced, tending toward the amateur end of the professional scale, but showing how hope can keep you inspired and endeavour can keep you switched on and up for the up and up, if you have the perseverance.

The fashion statements are slowly subsumed by a modestly thickening crowd. I mean it is hardly dense, but I don’t mean it detracts from the atmosphere. On my count, there are around sixty silhouetted gyrating shapes up front of me. I can’t say dancing because the rhythm is largely inconsistent, but there is certainly a lot of sound happening and plenty of episodic rhythmic grabs to hold on too. It is nice to see nearly everyone is on the dance floor instead of hunkered down in even darker corners or blankly tapping their toes in stage remote seats. I think the band and the audience are getting a mutually pleasurable buzz from their collective effort at novelty and vigour. It is great to see so many young women with so many different backgrounds going for it. It is hope that keeps me warm (with thanks to Mel C).

The Elle Shimada Band will be back at The Evelyn in Brunswick St next Wednesday. I do not know if the whole fashion thing happens again, but I hope it does for the next crowd as well.

Australian Crawl – Sirocco (S2 Reviews)

sirocco

EMI Records 1981 Vinyl

The cover outside:

Six very clean cut young men grace the gatefold black and white cover. They are generously spread across front and rear panels. The nice thing about this is you have to open the cover fully to appreciate the photograph. It is a grand image, on a truly large scale, in a way only an LP cover can deliver. They look so comfortable with each other. A relaxed confidence and bonhomie smiles out from the sleeve. They are a pretty handsome looking crew as well. Only front man James Reyne stands apart, challenging the cameraman with a look of veiled menace. Somebody in this band has to represent the rock ethos.

The cover inside:

Black and white once again features across the interior. Six portraits from the same shoot as the front hang across the centre top of the display, only this time it is Simon Binks doing the meaningful look into the camera. The potrait shots are placed across a greyscale muted sun, shining down onto the yacht Sirocco (it does look like the actual yacht). The yacht is sailing a calm sea. White on black gives the lyrics definition. They wrap themselves around the sides and base, parting just enough in the middle to encourage our eyes to track reflected sunlight up to the silhouetted boat.

 

Side 2: Track by track

Trusting you (Bill McDonough, Guy McDonough)

This song immediately sets a frantic, choppy pace with Reyne’s similarly choppy vocals requiring a familiar (to the previously initiated) bit of concentration if you want to catch all the lyrics. The sentiment revolves around a relationship from which trust has fled. But it doesn’t appear to be a romantic relationship. Maybe it was with management.

 

Errol (James Reyne, Guy McDonough)

Errol is based on a genuinely infectious pop bass run that gets straight into your head. This was a big hit for the band and I have fond memories of belting it out at dances and parties along with the rest of the off your face masses (wistful sigh). It is an expert paraphrasing of the great Errol Flynn’s bio. A song that not only makes you want to dance, but also know more.

 

Can I be sure (Simon Binks)

I think you could describe this as a bit of a lyrically sophisticated, musical plodder, of the dah de dah bass line variety. In a fairly analytical way, the lyric once again is questioning trust. My guess is that being in a highly successful band meant coming across all sorts of fakers and people so image conscious you would never be quite sure who was real. It is a worthy piece of reflection.

 

Easy on your own (Kerry Armstrong, Brad Robinson, Simon Binks)

The ringing guitar solos and a cute reggae break are features here. James’ voice invites you in by challenging your capacity to understand what he is singing, so you tend to concentrate on what is going on. This is not a bad thing. Actress Kerry Armstrong was partner to Brad Robinson, so writing lyrics about how much easier to be on your own was a surprise to me. Maybe the song is saying it is tough being partner to someone often on the road – and this could have referred to either of them.

 

Love boys (Bill McDonough)

Something a bit musically heavier. This song would have gone down well live. It is topically a pretty heavy song as well. I mean the characters are tattooed, bent, bash their women and heading for prison. I don’t know who the Love Boys were (are?), but they sure sound nasty. I only ever went to King’s Cross a few times. I am glad we never met.

 

Resort girls (Guy McDonough)

Here’s one that pricks up your ears as initially the lead guitar follows the vocal nicely and closely. However, it also has an air of desperation from the get go as women, young and older, head for resorts looking for love and finding something less.

 

Summary

This second Aussie Crawl album was a huge hit for the band. Sitting at the top of the charts for 6 weeks and only bested by John Lennon’s “Double Fantasy” for the year, it remains a keeper. Side 2 is no slacker, hosting one of the three single releases, “Errol”. The lyrics hold much more interest than your average pop/rock album. For this feature in particular, I rate it highly. Full of memories and just as fresh to hear again today. I still enjoy it.

Diary of a Retiree: Day 281

 

In Molesworth

James Reyne plays the Molesworth Hotel

(On the night of this photo, from this very microstage, it might not look possible, but it is true, true, true! The man above caused the mayhem below)

I come upon a fawning crowd
Of ferals
Bogan fresh and proud
Straight from the shower 
And into the pub
Girls glistening with glitter 
Post hot water scrub
Their stretch jeans too tight
Their muffin tops showing
Breasts fixed just right
Pancake face glowing
The boys in their utes
Polished for showing
All looking cute
With product hair woven
They come in their droves
From asbestos laced shedding
From acreage homes
Town houses with cladding
They gather in cliques
Or large social groups
The drinks go down nicely
The talk turns to hoots
And bold statements of fact
And alcohol hugs
The bravado act
As beer goes in chugs
The girls are a twitter
Who did what to whom?
They flit hither thither
Across the filling room
The singles are looking 
For a match for the night
All out there hooking
Their catch to hold tight
The couples are clingy
Not risking detachment
While the bully boys prowl
Asking “What that meant?”
The lonely boys savour
Their chances tonight
And if they’re not lucky
There’s always a fight

We’re packed in the room
As the lights slowly fade
There’s noise in the gloom
It comes from the stage
A postage stamp corner
Two metres by three
Can it be enough
For a man such as he?
Hushed anticipation
A God almighty roar
An explosive oration
James Reyne’s through the door
They know every word
For every single beat
They’re a seething horde
A mob on its feet
The mob moves as one
Rolling in great waves
And it sings as one
Waking cemeteries of graves
Glasses held aloft
Drinks slosh with abandon
Dancers mash and mosh
Bodies bounce and cannon
Reyne looks astonished
With worry in his eye
They won’t be admonished
They’re living the lie
So he charms them 
And he works them
The favourites are all here
He sings every hit
Everyone holds dear
Delivers with great fervour
Stokes their every passion
They sway and rock and quiver
Out of their heads and thrashing
The pace increases
Momentum builds
They’re here to get
Rock dreams fulfilled
He massages their egos
He caresses their zones
He tickles their fancies
He shakes their bones
He works them to ecstatic climax
As one collective lover
The building shakes
The room erupts
Foundations quake
…..
But it’s not enough

They cry loud, “More, more!”
But James is through the kitchen
Quickly out the door
To quit while you’re ahead
In Molesworth that’s for sure

Together, the mob bows its collective head
They pause in the afterglow
They know tonight went red
They know how to put on a show
In Molesworth