Photos by Damien Crocker
How does one describe a perfect gig? Is such a thing even possible? I’m not sure, all I know is that I attended a show on Wednesday night that came as close as to perfection as I’ve seen in a long, long time.
Let’s start with the venue, shall we? I’d not previpusly visited Freo.Social in its current guise. The former Fly By Night Club has had a thorough rejigging and, cultural cringing aside, it is now a modern, multi-bar marvel. I checked the website beforehand and saw that it would be okay if I brought an underaged child along and so I did. Some may say that taking a ten year old to a licensed rock gig is irresponsible, I say taking a kid to a Lemonheads gig is parenting done right.
We arrived just in time to catch a set from the initial support act. Ladies and gentlemen, if like me you’d not even heard the name The Money War, take steps to remedy that dearth in your life. Seriously, The Money War are fabulous. In essence the band is a duo of husband and wife team Dylan Ollivierre on guitar + vox and Carmen Pepper on bass + vox, out front of a line up which expands and contracts as needed to play live.
Given the luxury of an international record label and representation, The Money War exude confidence and charm as they blitz their way through a set of songs culled from their few releases. To me, some highlights were Recall and Hey Now, to my super-impressed daughter I believe the highlight was Carmen’s “everything!”
So, punters, when was the last time you saw an honest to goodness prog rock band? Yeah, me too. The Restless Age came all the way from upstate New York to lay a thick and thoughtful groove on us and that they do in spades. Being utterly unfamiliar with their work I cannot avail the reader of the names of any of The Restless Age’s songs but, y’know what? It’s prog rock so song titles are pretty much irrelevant. Just let those heavy, heady tunes beat you brainless. Dudes were cool, though. I had the opportunity to tap them into Aussie humour by telling one of them that the band was “as tight as a fish’s arsehole, and that’s waterproof”.
By the time Lemonheads struck the stage Freo.Social had filled up to not far short of capacity. The love in the room for Evan Dando was palpable. As it happens, drum and bass ‘heads in this iteration of Lemonheads were two members of The Restless Age, the music they played, however, could scarcely have been more different.
Looking as rakishly thin as ever, life has perhaps not always been kind to bearded Mr Dando, his voice though shows no sign of dissonance and the frenetic way he attacked his guitar could hardly have been more intense than at any point in the man’s long career.
Then there are the hits. Or should I emphasise THE HITS, man. They started early in the set and they kept on coming. And coming. And… well, you get the picture. By the way, Lemonheads have now released ten studio albums, so it’s not all C’mon Feel or It’s A Shame About Ray, songs from which are, naturally, the ones which elicit the greatest responses from the pump-primed crowd.
I personally nearly lost my shit when Turnpike was closely followed by Shame About Ray. One song which has always had a huge sentimental impact on me, Alison’s Starting To Happen, still punched me hard in the guts/heart, and by the time the band made it to Rudderless, my life felt complete. Let’s not leave it, though, to my jaundiced nostalgia. No, we’ll leave the final word to my wife, who’d neither heard nor heard of Lemonheads prior to Wednesday night. “He’s a real musician! He enjoys entertaining the audience, and they enjoy him just as much. He doesn’t want to leave the stage because the music comes from his soul”.
And that, dear readers, is the motherloving truth.