LEONE CARMEN
+ DIMI DERO INC
+ PENNY IKINGER INC
Excelsior Hotel, Surry Hills
Saturday, March 29 2008

By THE BARMAN

First things first and apologies for the lack of pictorial evidence that I was at this gig. You see, there are these new fangled thangs called digital cameras. I done got me a new one and I'll be darned if I can use it properly.

Penny Ikinger visits to her old hometown seem to be as infrequent as those of Dimi Dero Inc - and they're coming from France not Melbourne - but ya gotta cut her some slack. Penny's been working hard on a long overdue follow-up to her solo record "Electra" with recording sessions in fits and starts. There's a reasonable sized crowd in the house by the time she and her band take their places.

To save confusion here it should be pointed out that "Penny Ikinger Inc" is in fact Penny plus two members of Dimi Dero Inc - Vinz on bass and Dimi himself on drums - and this is the outfit that toured Europe a year and a bit ago.

There's a lot of empathy and raw talent at work. Vinz is a monster bass player, left-handed to boot, while Dimi is at home behind the traps as he is wrapping himself around his guitar and vocal mic stand. His feels are rock solid and fit hand-in-glove with Vinz's fluid but forthright basslines that drive the tunes forward.

The trio moves through a satisfyingly feedback-tinged set of old songs ("Poison Berries", a deliciously raucous "Shipwrecked" ) plus a few newies like "The Coast Road" and an as-yet untitled Ikinger co-write with Died Pretty's Ron Peno.

The punters lap it up but especially appreciate a cover late in the set of the Velvets' "All Tomorrow's Parties" that's delivered with smoky elegance (no mean feat in a smokeless venue) to match strides with the original.

Dimoi Dero Inc walk a path between psychodrama and melodrama as only a European band can. They're very talented players but it's very much Dimi's band. The ex-journalist grew up with a fixation on Australian bands so he's in his element touring these parts for the second time in as many years.

I've heard the music variously described as a cross between Kim Salmon-era Beasts and the Birthday Party. There's certainly a dark streak in the songs but tonight the Dimis come across as a little more rockin' than the last time I saw them (November '07 in Paris.) Then again they could just be cranky, because they drove all the way to a country pub on the New South Wales Far South Coast the day before and played to 15 shiftfaced fishermen. Last time I looked the Dimi Dero Inc sewt list had a severe shortage of Barnesy and Farnsey songs.

I haven't heard much of Leone Carmen's music (promos of the last album passed me by - I only heard the CD at a party at Vinz's place, weirdly enough) and she'll always have to wear the baggage of being an actress with the sorts of connections that detractors can fixate on. Her vocal style is a mix of Nico and Niagara, fairly black and atonal but this side of pretentious. I liked her song to Rowland S Howard on the tribute album.

With a band drawn from members of The Scare, The Holy Soul and Bridezilla (her daughter Hollday plays melodica), tonight's fare is a a sparse mix of folk-ish psych blues, quite maudlin in parts but generally played very well. My lack of familiarity with the catalogue means I can't give you a rundown on what songs they played and I don't know if it's entirely my cup of Bushell's, but diversity is a strong point for most bills in Sydney these days.

 


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