RADIO BIRDMAN
Cosmopolite, Oslo, Norway
September 12, 2003

WORDS: DAVE CHAMPION
PICTURES: JOEL OF DENIMZINE


It may sound like the opening line of a joke but here goes: Two Demons, a Maggot, a Voladora and I are in a car...... driving to Oslo, Norway for the most anticipated show of my life. I was fortunate enough to cop a ride to Oslo with these folks from some very good Stockholm bands.

We arrived at the venue to see that it was in total lockdown for Radio Birdman's soundcheck. I asked some Norwegian kid at the door if he could let Doc Tek know I was there and shortly enough there was Deniz, post soundcheck, looking quite pleased.

It had been a-year-and-a-half since I had last seen him play live with Scott Morgan's Powertrane in Philadelphia. After some quick negotiation with Brother John Needham I was given permission to film the night's events.

A good dinner with folks from bands from Helsinki, Stockholm and Oslo (yeah, it seems like everyone came to this show) it was on to the venue.

I first heard Birdman in July of 1978: A pimply-faced youth walks into a record store in Falls Church, Virginia and hears the lead break to "Aloha" for the first time. I just kept pondering the fact that some 25+ years later I was finally gonna get to see them in a place so far removed from Oz, both culturally and climate-wise.

On to the gig!

The band came on and before they even started "Do The Pop", Deniz made an announcement that will go down in my books as one of the classiest things ever done. He told the audience that Johnny Cash had died that morning and Radio Birdman were dedicating their entire set to Johnny. The audience went berzerk.

One after another the band stormed into classic after classic. I was standing next to Deniz's guitar filming the proceedings and I just had the largest shit-eating grin on my face. As I looked around the sold-out venue I saw that everybody had the same smile going. The greatest vibe that I have ever felt at any gig ever. And that's saying heaps because I have seen an awful lot of shows in my time.

Just before "Hanging On", both Deniz and Chris were tuning guitars at the same time and the chisel-featured Rob Younger started going on about the band having cheap guitars. This resulted in Deniz letting Rob and the rest of us know (in his Michigan accent) that "this guitar is a 1965 Epiphone Crestwood Deluxe". Yeah, it sure is and even though the headstock has been broken off three times it is one sweet guitar.




I was really interested in seeing how newcomer Jim Dickson would perform but watching the Barracudas bassist lay down the law on the four strings, I realized that he fits perfectly. Octogenerian (just kidding, Ron!) Ron Keeley was solid in the beats department too.

I had never realized how great a guitarist Chris Masuak was until I saw and heard some of his tasty work on his plexiglass Ampeg Dan Armstrong. He and Deniz complement without ever overwhelming each other. Keyboardist Doc Pip Hoyle was solid throughout and looked quite dashing in his black shirt and red necktie.

The band had just performed "Dark Surprise" when some drunken Norwegian began yelling for the song. Either he showed up late and missed it or he was just being a prat. Anyway you slice it he was annoying. I looked upwards at the unused balcony and was hoping one of the boys in the Demons would go up there, drop trou and deliver his own "dark surprise" unto this fool's shiny noggin.

After "Aloha" I realized that the journey started 25 years ago had now come around full circle. I would have left happy but the band wasn't done yet. They came back and did outstanding versions of "Man With Golden Helmet", "More Fun" and, of course "New Race".

But wait, sports fans, that wasn't all. They came back for a second encore and smoked everybody with great versions of "Cold Turkey", "Waitin' For The Man" and finally, 100 minutes after it all started, the Elevators "You're Gonna Miss Me" (with Deniz doing the Tommy Hall jug part on guitar).

Yikes, yikes, yikes!

6 Rolling Rocks outta 5, fuckers!

Set List:
Do the Pop/Smith and Wesson Blues/Burned My Eye/I94/Non Stop Girls/Love Kills/Alone in the Endzone/Descent into the Maelstrom/What Gives?/Hangin' On/455SD/Dark Surprise/Crying Sun/Murder City Nights/Anglo Girl Desire/Aloha Steve and Danno/Man with Golden Helmet/More Fun/New Race/Cold Turkey/Waitin' for the Man/You're Gonna Miss Me

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