Southern River Band / Lincoln MacKinnon & the Wrecking Train / Indigo Blaze
Mojos Bar, Fremantle
9 March 2019
That’s what we got tonight, around 60 minutes or so of full-tilt boogie, Southern River Band style
There was a queue outside Mojos Bar last Saturday night. That’s a pretty rare occurrence. Especially when it’s a local line-up that’s booked.
Standing in the line, eavesdropping, as journalists do, all the talk was of Cal, Callum, even Kramer.
“I’ve met him,” said one punter, “I’ve been to his house.”
“You’re so lucky!” said his newfound friend. “He’s got the most amazing mullet.”
All I can think of are Kramer’s words last time I sat down to chat with him, just before The Southern River Band headed off on the ‘Gather No Moss' tour that’s brought them here tonight, via a run of sold out east coast dates.
“Mine’s not a fucking mullet, it’s a mane. King of the jungle sort of shit.”
All I know is, we’re in for a night out. The punters are well up for it and I’m sure the king of the jungle will be, too.
But first, the supports.
Indigo Blaze play a brand of quick-fire rap-rock that had us in mind of something along the lines of Rage Against The Machine with accents of Beastie Boys and 28 Days. The five-piece knocked out a competent set to great acclaim from the half-full room of punters who had arrived early to check them out. Their singer, Rhys Gahan, has all the moves and vocal stylings of an American rapper, but things fell a bit flat when he tried to sing a ballad around three songs in. Tooled up for full bore rocking, seems the band haven’t quite nailed another gear just yet, but it probably won’t be long before they do. If they can manage to pump up the guitar licks, they may just have something. Put them on your watch list.
Lincoln Mackinnon & the Wrecking Train hit the stage next with their brand of country-swamp-blues-rock. They dialled up the intensity for tonight’s show, as a nod to the company they were keeping, and the harder edge soon had any sceptics in the audience won over.
Front man Lincoln MacKinnon stalks the stage like a tousle-haired Delta preacher who’s just about to experience the rapture while high on amphetamines. He’s unpredictable, mesmerising and shakes out his words and guitar licks like he’s been shot through with electricity. Backed by one of the best bands going around, MacKinnon and his unholy henchmen owned the Mojos stage.
For any band, one of the acid tests for their live performance is whether the audience will go with them when they put out the call. More highly-credentialed bands have died on stage when they’ve set up the call and their audience didn’t come back with the response. Safe to say that, when MacKinnon put out the call late in the Wrecking Ball’s set, the whole crowd came right back.
Job done. Consider the crowd sufficiently warmed up. And, if you haven’t seen them before, go check out Lincoln MacKinnon & the Wrecking Train sometime soon.
So, that just left Southern River Band.
Not so long ago, Callum Kramer, he of the lustrous mane, subject of punters’ Chinese whispers and still front man of one of the hottest bands in Australia right now, used to make a pretence of wearing a shirt on stage. He’d come on wearing a top, only to remove it one or two songs in. Well, he doesn’t even bother doing that any more. Tonight, he walked on stage wearing white velveteen bellbottoms, strapped on his trusty white Strat, greeted his waiting audience and that was it, we were off!
“Are you ready to fucking party?” was the question Kramer had for what was by now a packed venue. The answer was yes, thank you, young sir, very much so. Or something along those lines. There may have been swearing involved, there usually is where Southern River Band are involved. It’s all part of their thing. Turn it up to 11, in fact, “rip off the fucking knob,” and go full bore until there’s no more time left.
That’s what we got tonight, around 60 minutes or so of full-tilt boogie, Southern River Band style, with all the favourites, old and new, and, at the end of their set, a song “we haven’t played for a fucking long time in Perth.”
Time was, Southern River Band always closed their sets with ‘One Of These Nights (I’ll Be Gone)’. It’s a song that builds and builds and ends with a ripping guitar solo and a massive sing along at the conclusion of which Kramer declares his love for the audience and him Mum, and the audience responds in kind.
Closing with ‘One Of These Nights’ at this venue, one of the first they played to a bigger audience in Perth, was like the completion of a circle. You don’t need to be a rocket surgeon to predict that, next time they come this way, Kramer and his colleagues will be playing bigger venues. They’re also on the cusp of a sophomore album, following up on their debut, Live At The Pleasuredome.
Whatever happens next, change is a coming. It’s an inevitability. We just hope that they can keep on with the hooks, the showmanship and the massive choruses that have gained them their audience to this point.
We’re betting that they can.