RADIO BIRDMAN
+ THE SPAZZYS
Great Northern Hotel, Byron Bay
Thursday, January 18, 2005

By MIN

The build-up for the evening’s entertainment began with a read in the local press, The Echo, (an ex-hippy, rebellious publication) of an interview by our local celebrity, the one and only, Mandy Nolan. The interview was titled ‘A Birdman in the Hand. Mandy Nolan has a tete a tete with Tek’. Here are some tidbits:

Mandy: One always imagines life on the road as being highly excessive, involving groupies and kilos of coke. Well the guys were on the road, but they were off scoring tea and cake rather than crack.

Deniz:’..Jim and I have just been to Arncliffe, it’s Sydney’s Lebanese quarter Jim gets his tea there, he’s a connoisseur of tea. He was born in Sri Lanka so he knows his tea … next to the tea shop is a bakery where they make fresh pastries, we took them down to Botany Bay and ate overlooking the water….

Mandy: I’m on a diet and have to get the conversation back to music, lest I start devouring my keyboard in a sugar-fuelled envy. ….

So what’s it like getting back with your band and recording after a two and a half decade hiatus?

Deniz: ‘…some of the old behaviours are a bit dysfunctional …but it is exactly like being back with your family, its amazing how all those dynamics come right back and you’re in there! Something I’ve learnt this time around is that you have to know what your role is in the thing you are working on and have well defined objectives. (Sounds like a NSW health care plan, my words not Mandy’s.)

Mandy: So what should the Birdman fans be expecting for this gig?

Deniz: It’s hard rock. The same old Radio Birdman, its not all hard rock and there is humour in the music. We play hard and we play serious but there’s still room to take the piss and there’s still room for the quiet stuff and the experimental, but basically it’s the four-on-the-floor rock.

(For a full read go here.)

I arrived, with friends, halfway thru the Spazzy’s set after a fuelling stop plus a couple of bottles of wine at O-sushi (hey …remember this is Byron). The girls played well, straightforward punk style (anyone remember Brit. 70’s girl group ‘The Slits’?) I think I saw Chris Masuak in audience. There was a guy up front in a wheel chair, spinning around having a great time.

Then began THAT wait …waiting, waiting..noise building, the beers, the dreadlocks (remember this is Byron)..and for those astrologers out there (remember this is Byron) Jupiter sextile Mars sextile Neptune promises good music with the Moon coyly clad in the skimpiest of clouds. In fact the sky was attracting a lot of attention that night …a group of astronomers had a telescope set up just up the block ..to view Saturn’s rings ..anyway, enough side tracking ..waiting, waiting…bodies quivering in anticipation …no sign of Jelly ….waiting, waiting

At last, the blast begins, starting with “What It's For” - high energy, up-front impact but don’t ask me to hum the tune. The band looked relaxed and less intense than I had experienced before. Consistent with the southern gigs, they then followed with familiar tunes. "Do the Pop" and the floor begins to shake. "Non Stop Girls" sends the audience wild, kept tight, great version. Love Kills the guitars begin soaring and Pip’s keyboards could be heard. "Smith and Wesson Blues" has the sweat dripping off Deniz.

Rob and Chris were consistently present in the mix and in focus; Jim is deep in concentration, as always with his mouth open. Pip's eyes were closed while Nik remains hidden from view. The guitars again were great and the audience went ape.

My observation of "Do Me a Favour", another newie, was disrupted by a drunken bystander who was removed by security, but I noted that this song had that Birdman signature swing...this one has real potential. "Remorseless", another newie, began with a minor chord progression followed by a more complex arrangement.

I noticed that I was standing close to Angie Pepper and presumably her sister (she has a sister who lives in this Shire). I managed, in between songs and with both of us pulling out the ear plugs, to ask Angie about the Passengers gig planned for March (and the start date is not certain at the moment, was the gist of her reply).

More familiar tunes in "Endzone" and "Dark Surprise" follow, then another newie in "Rock Bottom", which was a slower one. Somehow, "Connected" became disconnected from my consciousness (it was on the set list I had a quick peek at) but have no mental record of it. "Descent into the Maelstrom" sends the audience really wild. By this time I was feeling my age, and with occupational health and safety concerns, I stepped back a bit. "Hanging On" and "Anglo Girls" follow. The audience was really revving up. By the time "455SD" arrived, sweaty bodies were flying everywhere. "Aloha" brought out the bodies surfing, rolling.. liquids flying… sweat cascading ..it was probably just as well the band then stopped for a break..

Technical problems had the band playing "Waiting for the Man"...and as English tourist Jelly pointed out on a mailing list, the man they were waiting for was Deniz. Meanwhile Chris was providing the main guitar sounds. Deniz appeared about halfway through, minus guitar, started to sing then begun to ‘move’. What a treat - he even managed ‘the swim’...but I had no camera - damn! I had forgotten he had fronted TV Jones as singer and mover. Then the guitar was back on and "Man With Golden Helmet" began. Pip could be prominently heard again.

"More Fun" was popular with the crowd, the band finishing with "New Race" which sent the masses troppo, bodies raging, surfing and sweating as before.

It was a night that left many auras in shatters, charkas misaligned and karmic paths messed up for a decade, but what the heck….this was Birdman, the band a Divinerites mailing list member once said would sell his grandmother (if he had one), to see perform. It was time to leave with that familiar ringing in my ears; the Moon was still lookin’ pretty good. Hopefully the RBT van had gone home. I had an early start in a few hours time…….

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