HARD ONS
+ JESSE JAMES
The Garage, London
NOVEMBER 22, 2005


Touching down in the UK for a solitary date on the Hard-Ons' latest tour meant a trip straight after work up to the Big Shitty, London Town. This tour is the Euro-extension (if you will) of their 21st Anniversary dates in Australia, and 17 years since the boys from Punchbowl first arrived on our own shores.

1988 was the year, and my initiation was a raucous set at The Richmond, Brighton. And although the memories are fading with time, my somewhat rudimentary mathematical skills calculated on the train journey up that I’ve seen the Hard-Ons, on average, at least once a year ever since. Zap Club, Electric Ballroom, Selina’s, Kardomah, Landsdowne, Paddington RSL, Free Butt, Paradiso, Astoria… the list of venues goes on and on. And seeing them at The Garage adds another venue to that list.

I miss the opening band, and arrived just as main support Jesse James takes to the stage. I’ve seen them a coupla times previous, and heard their CD’s, and they’ve not done a lot for me with their horn-driven Punk-lite. But tonight they don’t annoy me too much, and at moments they are semi-okay, but the fact that this isn’t “their crowd” seems to add a certain lack of commitment and effort to their performance. Hey boys, where were your fuckin’ crowd???

The changeover is swift, and with The Heartbreakers' epic junkie anthem ‘Chinese Rocks’ playing through the P.A. the Hard-Ons assemble, plug in… and kick-in with ‘Sunny’ from their last album, the mighty good ‘Very Exciting’.

‘Sunny’ is the perfect example of where they’re at, filthy and loud sweet fuzzed Pop that’s packed with stacks of big riffage. And riffage is definitely what they do so well.

Their latter day set at times takes on the air of a free form sonic jam of thunderous dynamics and total heaviness. Drummer Pete is a powerhouse, a demolition guy. This is the fourth time I’ve seen him behind the kit and tonight truly saw the impact he has. And c’mon, what’s to say about Blackie and Ray… the bastard offspring of Angus Young and Chuck Dukowski’s demon seed.

After a burst of newer material (including some brand new tracks) they are joined on stage by their original brother-in-arms Keish De Silva… who is shorn of his locks and looking incredibly fit and healthy. Did they keep him cryogenically frozen until he was ready to rejoin the fold???!!! It must be odd for Keish to be playing the role of frontman for this section of the set, and at times he does look a little lost, but fuck it… he’s gotten some moves, and he’s up there doing it, and having a great time by the looks of it, as the band blaze through a whole pile of hits from way back when…

 

“Raining” “Don’t Wanna See You Cry” ”Where Did She Come From” (a rendition of this track alone guarantees I go home a happy man) “Do it With You” “Dull” “I Do I Do I Do” “Just Being with You” and the show closing blitzkrieg that is “Suck and Swallow” - which has been stripped down and supercharged, as anyone who’s seen the Hard-Ons on their recent tours will testify to. The audience demand more, the band oblige with a couple more numbers, depart… but the audience are still not satisfied that this is the end, and the band return for another number… which I think might have been “Small Talk”… but I was having too much of a good time to take-in all the necessary data – so sorry!

I leave in to the cold winter night air with my ears ringing and a head full of killer songs bouncing around in my head. Message to Mainland Europe: Go see the Hard-Ons this tour, they’re ruling!!! - Pete Craven

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