It was the last night of winter for 2017 and a cold wind fazed not the expectant rabble of music lovers congregating on the Enmore for the evening’s proceedings of four fine Australian rock bands here to give it their best.
The crowd was already beginning to swell as punters obeyed the gravitational pull of Adalita‘s voice (or the sloped floor of the Enmore, maybe) and hurried down towards the stage to watch the spectacular frontwoman and her band of gentlemen perform songs of love and loss and in-between. While not too far removed from the ever missed Magic Dirt, Adalita comes off more spacious, a dryer classic tone set to lashings of reverb replacing the trademark torrent of overdrive and fuzz her music was previously known for. Impressively tight and encapsulating and an all round great performance to start the night with.
The crowd had warmed and grown significantly before the youthful exuberance of Jebediah hit the stage. 20 years after the release of their massive debut Slightly Odway, the group still play like they are in their early 20s, albeit a lot better than they used to. Exhibiting a best-of vibe for tonight’s seemingly too short a set, punchy classic tunes are delivered with renewed vigour and send the energy levels of the night towards the roof. Hits like ‘Animal,’ ‘She’s like a Comet’ and ‘Please Leave’ begin the crowd participation phase that would continue through the night.
The Enmore was bulging to the point it was starting to get difficult to navigate back onto the floor after a bar or toilet run when You Am I appeared. A band heavily tempered to touring and providing the best show they can offer every time, it’s any wonder punters were shoulder to shoulder.
Effortlessly, Tim Rogers and crew command the throng, like a well-maintained machine they were an unstoppable force but remained humble and stayed on the same level as the fans sweated it out on the now completely obscured Enmore Theatre floor. Even the upstairs seating was filling up.
Classic barnstormers like ‘Purple Sneakers’ and ‘Rumble’ were playfully offset with a bouncing cover of Cheap Trick‘s ‘I Want You to Want Me’ and teasing everyone with the first verse of Deep Purple‘s ‘Black Night,’ much to my own chagrin. Why would you do that? Give us the whole song you wonderful bastards!
You Am I closed their set with crowd favourite ‘Berlin Chair’ in all its glory, leaving it to ring in the minds of the critical mass awaiting tonight’s headliners as they hang on dearly to vantage points or shuffle impatiently at the bars or navigate the tumultuous toilet situation in this heritage venue.
So far I have been asked where the bathrooms are or whether they can walk past me with a drink well over 20 times. What? Do I look like I work here?
Finally, the house lights dip and an array of video screens hanging down behind the stage light up, sending a wave of excitement through the present audience and panic through those still waiting at six deep lines to get drinks in.
The Hoodoo Gurus light up the stage, opening with the swaying ‘A Place in the Sun,’ practically setting the room on fire as the late runners with hands full of canned alcohol push through back to their vantage points. The following up of early tracks ‘Tojo’ and the obscure ‘Be my Guru,’ give the die hards a treat, dipping into an impressive back catalogue of punky, psychy, surfy rock that refuses to stand still. Even super early tracks like ‘Leilani’ are rejuvenated and bigger than ever, outshining even themselves.
The Gurus have been kicking since the early 80s and hit a commercial peak in the early 90s but are far from a nostalgia act. This is four fantastic musicians putting on a great show every time they hit the stage and bring people’s favourite songs and memories to life. Even the younger portion of the viewers would be surprised to find how many songs they recognised, and while there was a lot of grey hair floating about, there was no sense of slowing down from band or crowd.
The energy was infectious and the performance explosive at times, even through false starts or missed lyrics for the more uncommon choices on the setlist, there was no love lost or drop in the air. The crowd still sung along with every song they knew, through the catchy hooks of ‘Death Defying’ and ‘Come Anytime’ and even when the mood dropped to melancholic for the aptly titled monster ‘Bittersweet.’
Eventually, the night reached a fever pitch once again with an electrifying rendition of ‘Miss Freelove 69’ adding some frantic funkiness into an already full pool of genre crossing hits, with top tier favourites like ‘What’s my Scene?’ and ‘Like Wow – Wipeout’ held off as the set came close to the end of the night.
It was still barely the final night of winter, 2017, as the Hoodoo Gurus finally disappeared from the stage and exhausted punters braved the cold winds in their leather jackets.
Tonight they celebrated Australian rock and experienced four fantastic bands representing it, a monumental spectacle of guitar, bass and drums (and occasionally keyboard) delivered in such a way unique to this country, and we’re pretty bloody lucky for it!