Mark Roxburgh of DOTR.

The Empire of Annandale, Sydney
Saturday, April 18, 2009

Words & Pictures: THE BARMAN

If it's inexcusable to apologise for missing an opening band then there's no grounds for saying sorry for arriving just after The Alohas twanged their last for the night. Would an expression of sincere regret suffice? Not being here early puts me in the minority judging by the size of the crowd that's already in so I should know better next time.

There's no missing The Booby Traps' set which opens with the Sonics' version of "Night Time" and maintains, or exceeds, that high standard throughout. That kick-off is as good a signal as any that if you're looking for great garage/girl group rock tonight, you've come to the right place.

The Boobies might have attained Sydney Elder Statespeople Status for longevity but their set sits just right and would put many younger bands to shame, especially on the score of Carrie's energy levels. There's plenty of songs from the new album "Makin' It With The Booby Traps", naturally enough, with "Dig Your Attitude", "Stop" and "What I Guy Can't Do" stand-outs. There's also fun "Anyway You Want It" in there somewhere too.

Carrie gets a move on.

Fun's the operative word at Booby Traps shows and there's a bit of intra-band/crowd chatter going on, with Kendall James telling Bill Gibson that he (Kendall) is far too much of a smartarse to be given a microphone. Call it bassplayer camaraderie but why do guys who play four strings seem to bond more than drummers? Too hard for me brother, but any suggestions and/or drummer jokes can be emailed here and we'll append them to the bottom of the review.

Brigitte and Carrie of The Booby Traps.

Apart from a motel room for Gibbo and Kendall the only thing missing is a mosh close to the stage lip, but maybe that's too much to ask for in these financially overwrought times. As veteran Bob Short (an unashamed Booby Traps booster) has bemoaned, Sydney crowds just don't dance (or do whatever passes for it) any more. I'm pleading guilty on that count but things just don't work as well since the dual hip replacement and pacemaker implantation, plus insurance for Zimmer frames is so expensive.

OK, it's 23 years between drinks for this band (barring parties and the reunion recent show) and punters are getting on, but the walking aids are well hidden. The Decline of The Reptiles' fanbase has grown an extra leg with the news that the band is back walking the earth. There's a good few backing up from the first gig here and a more besides. I can't be seeing things but some of them seem younger, if that's possible. (Hey, I'd only had two beers at this stage and both of them were light).

No commentary either on DOTR vocalist Mark Roxburgh's clothes - this ain't Rolling Stone - but the last review inspired a customization job on a microphone stand that was straight out of "Caddyshack".

The 19th hole.

If there'd been a gopher down that hole someone would have called the RSPCA as Roxburgh threw it, and himself, around. Anyone for tennis? Let's draw the line at rugby league or Australian rules props - that'd just lead to a messy nightclub incident and non-one wants to end up in court.

Given the luxury of an hour-plus to work with, DOTR turns on a formidable set that's as notable for old inclusions ("Time Stands Still", "Mother Christ" - thanks for them) as the quality of the newer Dean Coulter songs. Given DOTR's inclination to do some recording soonish, the less familiar tunes might get a wider audience.

Drummer Derek Tinworth gets a special call-out from his bandmates for the Carmen Appice proportions of his kit (at least it doesn't have two kick drums), but it has to be said that DOTR has lucked out with his recruitment. Great drummers that don't explode are hard to find, let alone one with chimes as part of their kit. If you saw a B-double truck backing up to the Empire's doors after the show it was to make sure his drums and Andy Newman's brand-spankin' new bass made it home intact.

Dean Coulter with the blues.

Bruce Tatham, Andy Newman (obscured) and The Derek Tinworth Band on drums.

A couple of songs are shortened ("Clubland", for example, doesn't get the extended treatment of the last show - but is still a stunner anyway) and Roxburgh's voice slips a cog towards the end (understandable given the length of the set and lack of regular gigging. The sound's well balanced too with Bruce Tatham's keyboard playing coming through clearly.

There's a "Kill City" feel to these songs when guitar and keyboards lock in. Having a first class engine room obviously helps. Amanda Roxburgh's guest backing vocalist augmentation of "More" is again a nice touch.

There might have been the odd rough moment along the way (I'll bet Mark wasn't saying much the next day) but when you see a set like this, you really have to be grateful that the Reptiles have shrugged off hibernation.