Sharon Burgess – the-living-end-red-hill-march-2018-sharon-burgess-4
Picture: Sharon Burgess

Review: The Living End, Spiderbait, Veruca Salt and the Lemonheads at Red Hill, Perth, 3 March 2018

The picturesque Red Hill Auditorium, nestled among the eucalypts and native birds, with its beautiful views of the city skyline, usually evokes an atmosphere of tranquillity and peace. Not tonight. Anything with paws or wings was seen scurrying quickly down the hill as The Living End, Spiderbait, Veruca Salt and The Lemonheads combined forces to tear nature a new one.

The Lemonheads main man Evan Dando started the night with an understated solo dawdle through the equipment to deliver the cutesy acoustic opener ‘Being Around’. The band then joined Dando on stage in front of a reduced capacity venue to run through a hit and miss set of 90s nostalgia. Dando was almost unrecognisable from the sex symbol of old, sporting a sea captain-like salt and pepper beard and performed mostly the way he was dressed – a little sloppy. ‘The Great Big No’ was a highlight, but ‘If I Could Talk I’d Tell You’ exposed a voice struggling to hit the high notes or even some of the low. One for the true fans only.

The confident strut of Veruca Salt frontwomen Nina Gordon and Louise Post was matched by their impressive dual guitar attack. From the opener ‘Straight’ to the closer ‘Earthcrosser’, they were the ultimate professional unit. Great songs like ‘Volcano Girls’, ‘Shutterbug’ and ‘Don’t Make Me Prove It’ were tight and as fresh as ever and their familiar vocals were just like a warm hug. The reunion of these two bona fide rock stars  was highlighted in the song ‘Eyes On You’ – a celebration of the two reconciling after years of estrangement. With smiles beaming through choreographed hair flicks, the women seemed rapt to be punching out riffs together. A pleasure to watch.

Let the Kram show begin! Opening with ‘Straight Through The Sun’ the RPMs went into the red and never came back. Spiderbait was in full control. Kram loves to interact with an audience and the venue lapped it up. There was singing happy birthday to bandmate Janet English and profound call-and-response moments like:

(Kram) “Who’s a boy?” (Crowd) “Yay!”

(Kram) “Who’s a girl?” (Crowd)  “Yay!”

At times the arena resembled a kid’s party for overly enthused adults punctuated with the not-so-kid-friendly sing-along of ‘You’re Fuckin’ Awesome’’ and a great cover of ‘99 Luftballons’. ‘Buy Me A Pony’ and ‘Calypso’ had the crowd in a frenzy with Kram revving up the punters even more, as if they needed it.

An entertaining addition to the show was the spotlighted area side of stage that showcased the unfortunate eviction of a few overly enthused adults while Spiderbait played them their last rites. ‘Black Betty’ was the epic finale to a set that was full of fun.

The Living End had just returned from recording their latest album to join this tour and again confirmed why they are one of Australia’s premium live acts. A full throttle opening set of ‘West End Riot’, ‘Roll On’ and ‘Uncle Harry’ set the scene early and didn’t let up. The chugging guitar of ‘Monkey’ got the floor nodding and the band introduced a new song ‘Drop The Needle’ from their upcoming album.

Chris Cheney’s voice sounded a little weary so he let his guitar do most of the talking and at times the group looked like they were struggling to keep pace with the breakneck speed they had set for themselves. Moments of improvised jamming were all class a ripping version of ‘Prisoner Of Society’ finished things off nicely.

There was much debate over who should have received top billing for this gig, but it was kind of irrelevant. Veruca Salt, Spiderbait or The Living End all gave headline-worthy performances and that lineup, in any order, is a recipe for a cracking show.

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