JOHNNY CASINO’S EASY ACTION
+ SYDNEY CITY TRASH
+ THE BLURTERS
Lansdowne Hotel, Sydney
April 1, 2005
WORDS & PICTURES: THE BARMAN
If you’re looking for something that contradicts previous assessments of Johnny Casino’s Easy Action live, look elsewhere. They were loud, unpretentious and about as satisfying as raw, spirited and loose rock and roll gets on this, their second-last Australian date. The rest of the evening? Well, your results may have differed.
First up, Unfuckable playing (I think) their second gig. Featuring the Onyas’ Richard Dropkick on drums, Johnny Casino himself on bass, a guitarist I didn’t know and the irrepressible Rodney Cocknut (only one of his many names) on vocals and hair, they were excellent in a snotty way.
Managing to impart a strong smell of The Saints into their short but strident set, they married the evening’s most tortured lead guitar breaks to driving rhythms and a healthy sense of fun. Don’t ask me the song names (although the sensitive country lament “Unfuckable” is one that stuck), but most seemed to be about drinking beer or being a loser (are you relating yet?) Rodney did the best job of cadging beers from the crowd I've witnessed in many a year.
Rumour was the set would only last 20 minutes, but that was unfounded. There was no stopwatch going but most of the crowd were baying for more. Don’t know when another chance will be to catch them again since Richard has moved back to Brisbane and Johnny’s quite a road warrior, but I was assured there will be more shows.
Next up, The Blurters who sit at that point where hardcore meets death metal (“crusty punk” an observer with some experience in that area pointed out). It’s a place that I prefer not to hang out. Doc Martens meet fingers-down-a-chalkboard vocals and seemingly empty intensity. They’re railing against something but it’s lost in the delivery. Let someone else who cares ponder its worth. I’m off for a $3.50 beer (or five).
Speaking of which, The Lansdowne doesn’t do a lot of marketing these days - and probably doesn’t have to, given that it was (like some of the gnarly locals) comfortably full by the time The Unfuckable came on. Free admission, cheap drinks and free meat raffles (not much use if you don’t have a fridge nearby, but the raw meat could have been fed to Unfuckable) makes it the best value venue in Sydney. It’s a different place to what it used to be, as half the room space has been sealed off and given to poker machines. While those stupid beasts and the addicts/bozos that play them may keep the till ticking over, it’s great to see that a place remains for rock and roll of the most basic kind in the Lansdowne business plan.
Sydney City Trash come across as a more sober version of The Pogues (and let’s face it, you’d be clinically dead if you were any more smashed than that band’s Shane McGowan, so there’s not much challenge in living up to that description.) While Celtic punk with local lyrical reference points may not be everyone’s wee dram of whisky, it went down pretty well tonight. Good drinking music.
It’s nigh on 1am when the headliner ambles on and they charge into a set (naturally) dominated by the album content. It’s real up-close-and-personal by now, nothing but a couple of paces separating crowd from band. There’s a look that Johnny Casino gets when he’s “into” a show…a big grin and a faraway look in his eyes as he thrashes and flings his guitar about and those incredibly loud, rippling lines issue forth. He had it on pretty well through most of the night.
This is a band is about having a great time and hamming it up. That’s why the multi-headed vocal combination of The Cosmic Commander (pictured above, a truly manic frontman), the very focussed Kevin McCarthy (like Cosmo, a US import) and the laconic but still intense, Grahame “Deluxe” (nee Spittles of Asteroid B612) worked so well. (I’m thinking “Expressway to Your Heart” as a prime case). The contrasts between singers was a plus rather than a distraction, and original songs like “Roy The Boy” are strong. Can’t go wrong with “Black to Comm” as a cover, either.
So these guys are off to Europe later in '05. Best of luck to 'em and the venue owner that thinks they can contain 'em. The Continentals are in for a treat.
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