Tote Hotel
Saturday, June 26, 2004


The Tote’s 21st birthday celebrations have produced some superb rock’n’roll events. The reunion of the Moodists was yet another such event, and further testament to the Tote’s ongoing reputation for memorable inner-city rock’n’roll moments.

I arrived in time to hear Teenwolf thump out a very engaging support act. They exuded a sort of Celibate Rifles feel, which is a very nice feeling to be greeted with. The guitarist managed to a guitar solo on his knees without ever coming across like a white metal dickhead. A band certainly worth seeing again.

The Moodists came on stage around midnight. This was a suitable time for a band that could easily get a gig as the house band for a New Orleans cemetry. The Moodists’ music is dark, swampy and gutteral. There is no peace, love and understanding here, no flowers of romance, no rainbows of hope. But within that darkness there is a sort of beauty – not the sort of beauty you’d see on a birthday card, but the type of aural beauty that was consistent with the pungent stench and adhesive floorboards of the Tote.

Clad in a shimmering three button suit and fetching hat, Dave Graney was, as usual, picture of satorial splendour. His idiosyncratic stage moves – something vaguely akin to a vaudevillian kick boxing routine – dominated the band’s visual aesthetic. Steve Miller’s slightly ill-prepared tuxedo complemented (but not competing with) Dave’s fashion lead. In absolute contrast was Mick Turner in anti-glam t-shirt and jeans, proving yet again that there is more to rock charisma than crazy sunglasses and rehashed 60s rock rhetoric.

And then there is the rythym section of Chris Walsh and Clare Moore. Who cares what they were wearing, just listen to them play. This is no ordinary combination of beats and bass. Throughout Dave’s poetic lyrical meanderings and Turner and Miller’s guitar duels, Moore’s pulsating beats and Walsh’s thundering bass nailed the band’s performance for the whole set.
Songs like Machine, Machine and Some Old Jones bore testament to the band’s legacy and ongoing brilliance. Graney’s lyrics make a mockery of the facile moanings intrinsic to many contemporary pop tunes. Unlike many other lead singers, Graney can contrive an ambience of nastiness without ever uttering a profanity.

Judging by the size of the crowd on Saturday night, the Moodists remain a cult interest for most music fans, even in their adopted hometown of Melbourne. But everyone there went away thoroughly satisfied. A Moodists reunion is a rare treat, and something that every pub rock lover – especially those born after 1980 – should never miss.