The Vanguard, Newtown
Thursday, 9 February 2006

Words & Pictures: RICHARD SHARMAN of
Blackshadow Photography

There was no way in hell I was going to miss the chance to catch Melbourne-based Ian Rilen and The Love Addicts on one of their rare forays north to Sydney. This trip saw them out of their familiar surrounds of Surry Hills/Darlinghurst pubs and joining the dinner and show circuit at The Vanguard.

While waiting for proceedings to get underway the crowd was entertained by the screening (on the wall) of the delightful cult movie “Plan 9 from Outer Space”, a fine movie indeed!

While dinner was underway singer/songwriter James Davies perched himself on a stool on stage and strummed out a few tunes. From what I can gather most of these were about ex girlfriends, after a promising start they started to gain a certain blandness. He was joined later in the set by another guitarist and a female singer (with a great voice) to finish off.

Once the preliminaries were out of the way, the grizzled rock ‘n’ roll man, Ian Rilen lead his band on to the stage and opened up with the delightfully sleazy riff that kicks into “Booze to Blame” – an anthem about an old booze hound and a young girl; one gets the feeling this is a subject matter Rilen has intimate knowledge of. The music is simple and powerful, the lyrics concise and from the heart… lines like “I’m a bad man when I’m drinkin’… and you can guess the rest”; this style has seen luminaries as Paul Kelly and Don Walker praise Rilen as one of the finest song writers in Australia.

The line up for the Love Addicts this time was Ian Rilen (guitar and vocals), Kim Volkman (lead and slide guitar), Dave Nicholls (drums ) and replacing bassist Cathy Green (for this tour only), Sean Volkman. This band are tight, they play Rilen’s dirty blues rock with snap and sparkle; Rilen doesn’t so much play his guitar as beat it into submission. Kim’s guitar work provides the perfect counterpoint - it’s polished, powerful but never overplayed. Dave Nicholls on drums is a man possessed – he nails the beat firmly and whacks the hell out of that kit while Sean’s bass lines are the glue that sticks it all together; all the while you have Rilen spitting and snarling out the lyrics, his voice ranging from a Tom Waits growl and a blues howl to sibilant whisperings.

The set drew on the vast back catalogue ranging from material from his recent “Passion, Boots and Bruises” album back to songs from his Hell to Pay era (a band Rilen had with Spencer P Jones) in the late ‘90s. Some of the highlights were “401”, “Happy”, “Mobile Phone”, “I Dare Ya” and “Cold Wind”.

When the band started into the John Lee Hookeresqe “Bad for Good” a broken string saw Rilen throw down his Jaguar guitar and grab the microphone as he led the crowd through some great foot stomping blues/rock.

The lack of guitar provided Ian with the excuse to grab the bass and call for his long time X collaborator Steve Lucas to get up on the stage. Steve grabbed Kim’s Gold Top Les Paul and the years stripped away from both men (and much of the crowd) as they launched into the X classic “TV Glue” then into the hard driving “Degenerate Boy”. This X-tra saw the crowd push the tables back and head to the front of the stage and really start to get into it. Given the turbulent history between Rilen and Lucas, this on-stage reunion was a real surprise. The chemistry these two have on stage is something magical and one has to wonder if the chance of another X reformation is as dead and buried as it appeared six months ago.

With his guitar re-strung and Kim Volkman back on stage the Love Addicts threw themselves into “Inside Out” before closing out the night with a meltdown version of “Wishing Well” that must have gone for at least ten minutes.

Mighty fine stuff!

This is music from the heart, delivered with passion and intensity that few bands anywhere can muster. If you get the chance to catch Ian Rilen and The Love Addicts you won’t go away disappointed.

More photos available at www.blackshadow.com.au

Steve Lucas joins Ian Rilen for a partial X rerunion.