Sandringham Hotel, Newtown, Sydney
Friday, June 23 2006

Words & Pictures: THE BARMAN

No band does gutter-level bluesy rock and roll better than the Love Addicts. None. So it's fitting that the upstairs shoebox that doubles for the Sando's band room until a planned makeover happens is fairly packed to the gills. It's the first of a two-night Sydney stand and the punters seem to either be longtime Rilen/X fans, or their (predominantly female) offspring.

The word that Ian is packing a serious health problem might have brought people out of the woodwork to show their support. It's a cold night outside so there would have been incentive for them to stay home. Whatever the case, there's a lot of love in this room for the irascible veteran who sports a pork pie hat, checkerboard slip-ons and permanently-applied sunglasses.

Ian had been part of the Jack Awards on Tuesday night, joining a supergroup of younger players from Grinspoon, the Vines and You Am I for a tribute to the late Peter Wells. Pre-tonight's gig, The Bad Boy For Love complains that some of the war stories being told by the current generaiton of road warriors makes them look like a bunch of pussies. He'd know.

All things considered, Ian's actually looking pretty good and while the world that's familiar with his consumption levels wonders how he quit his cigarette habit (cold turkey) and cut down dramatically on his booze, the man himself is carrying a look of intense determination as he adjusts the mic and plugs in. He's intent that tonight will rock this sweaty little hotbox to its foundations - which is just what he and the Love Addicts do, reeling off familiar tracks from "Passion, Boots & Bruises" as well as a sprinkling of older and brand new songs.

There's no set list - the band plays what it likes as it goes. Spontaneity rules. It all clicks with everyone in stinging form. Guitarist Kim Volkman looks like a demented pirate, wearing a leer a mile wide and an over-sized earring as he reels off tasty licks. Cathy Green and Ian lock into the groove on bass and guitar respectively, locking tongues for good measure in one very funny and touching moment. They're no longer a couple but probably still hold the belt for the title of Mr and Mrs Common Law Rock and Roll.

The set goes for the best part of two hours, the band having decided against breaking it into two brackets. "Bad for Good" is retrieved from the mid-80s, while "401" rocks like an overdriven Chevy (or Buick, these days) to pass the checkered flag as Best Car Song Ever. "Booze to Blame" is something of a Rilen signature tune and doesn't the crowd lap it up.

One lady near the front is heard to say that to a mate that "I Dare Ya" doesn't do it as hard as an X song whose name I can't recall but I beg to differ anyway. It could well be an X song, as brutal it is in its ex-ecution (pun intended). "Mobile Phone" is requested and delivered, greeted in appropriate fashion as it's a firm crowd favourite. "Happy" (not Keef's version, although you could imagine him croaking it) keeps everybody feeling that way.

The Love Addicts sound is a grinding, gnashing of guitars atop big fat bedrock. The songs are delivered in guttural, damaged fashion and the whole experience is like having a rusty hacksaw applied to your head by a dentist whose unpaid bill from your last time in the chair means he wants a piece of you (literally).

Can't tell you the names of the new tunes but one of them sounds like something Sardine v might have done if they'd been in the business of employing fuzz bass. There's another with a slightly less eclectic edge. They're undoubtedly going to be recorded some time this week when the band goes into a Sydney studio. Both tonight's and the following evening's sets were recorded for a mooted live release.

The other news is that a long dreamt about European tour could (finally) be on the cards. We'll watch with interest if it comes together 'cos this is just the sort of live band that discerning European rock and roll fans will adore. Just as Rose Tattoo reckoned It's Never To Loud the Love Addicts contend that It's Never Too Late. More strength to them.