The Red Hot Summer Tour has been travelling around Australia for the last six weekends playing to sold out audiences at every stop! Now that’s something pretty incredible considering the line-up and their veteran status. However it seems that the creators have hit on just the right market at the right time. Looking around at the crowd, these are (by and large) people who were there the first time round for bands like The Angels and Suzi Quatro and probably caught the very start of bands like The Screaming Jets and The Baby Animals. These are the people who supported Australia’s pub rock scene, they all went away at the start of the 90s, had kids and now those kids have gotten old enough for their parents to start going out again… So here we are!
Due to a little misunderstanding I arrived a little late to catch both Moving Pictures and Chocolate Starfish, however as I walk in as if on cue the mighty Screaming Jets take the stage.
The Jets have, for the last 30 or so years, been churning out great Aussie pub rock, all over the course of three decades when pub rock has been the least “cool” thing in the world. But Dave Gleeson and his crew don’t seem to have ever given a crap. In the heat of a Brisbane summer afternoon the guys delivered a damn fine rock show that traversed their entire career. They trotted out the usual hits with I Won’t Change a Thing and Helping Hand getting the crowd going (for the first time today it turns out), but it was a barn storming version of the classic Better that really got people off their seats and down the front.
Up next were The Baby Animals. Now, I’ve been waiting a very long time to see Suzi DeMarchi and the boys on stage, for my money DeMarchi is one of the very best front women in the business. When she casually saunters out on stage and takes the mic and kicks straight into the one, two punch of Rush You and One Word everyone in the place is forced to sit up and pay attention. She OWNS the stage. Her voice has not aged one bit, it still retains the power and clarity it did in the early 90s! The band kick into new song Tonight which feels pretty bog standard FM rock, but they quickly head back in time to their heyday with Back Bone and Break my Heart both retaining the energy and the urgency of a band far younger than the four we see on stage today. Their set finishes, as the sun sets, with the awesome Early Warning and Ain’t Gonna Get.
A lot has been written about the trials and in-fighting that went on between former members of The Angels. In one corner you had the Brewster brothers and in the other was Doc Neison. At one point there were two versions of the band kicking about but with the death of Neison, the Brewster brothers have taken back the name and have for the last seven years been touring once again as The Angels. Filling the massive shoes left by Neison is (and has been for the aforementioned seven years) Dave Gleeson (yes, he of The Screaming Jets). Gleeson does a very respectable job of channelling Neison’s magnetic and engaging stage persona. But a band with the background that The Angels have need not worry about this crowd, they want to hear the songs they grew up with. The set kicks off with After the Rain, followed quickly by the massive hit She Keeps no Secrets. Three songs in, the classic Am I Ever Going to See Your Face Again, (and if you don’t know the answer to that line and are from Australia, I’m sorry but I’m going to have to take your passport and kick you out of the country!) which really gets the crowd going. As the chant goes up after every question asked, I can’t see anyone in the crowd that isn’t smiling ear to ear. Killer song after killer song follows with the band finishing on Take a Long Line, and the audience erupts.
I’m very well aware of Suzi Quatro, however I can’t say that I’ve been too exposed to her catalogue apart from Devil Gate Drive. I didn’t think I could name many of her songs. Quatro has been rocking for more than 50 years at this point, and while age has take a toll, it’s definately not taken that toll on her ability to put on an absolutely blinding rock ‘n’ roll show. This is her 35th Australian tour and with the response that she received, I’m sure that it won’t be close to her last. Kicking off the show with The Wild One, Mumma’s Boy and Tear me Apart, Quatro wasted no time teaching everyone a lesson in rock. Taking some time mid-set to duet with Dave Gleeson for Stumbling In and the ballad Can I be your Girl? followed by a cover of Neil Young with an awesome singalong version of Rockin’ in the Free World, the main set finishes with a storming version of Devil Gate Drive. Everyone in attendance knows they have seen something very special, but no one leave till Quatro and the guys come back for an encore of an ABBA song, Take it Easy and Jonny B Goode.
From the apparent success of this year’s Red Hot Summer Tour I can see a future of more small boutique festivals featuring some of Australia’s best old pub rock bands. With any luck it won’t be as hot next year. I need a bath. What a night!