GROWING UP AIN'T WHAT IT USED TO BE

MUDHONEY
+ THE CELIBATE RIFLES
+ THE HOLY SOUL
The Metro, Sydney
Friday, February 25 2005

By EARL O'NEILL

For reasons that may or may not become apparent in the course of this review, this show caused me to ponder somewhat on the passage of time, the aging process and the seriously historical nature of this thing we call rock and roll.  For all of that, the image that came repeatedly to mind was of some grimy inner-city loungeroom, circa ‘89/90, bodies sprawled on couches, empty beer bottles, smelly bongwater, the insistent sound of credit cards tapping on smooth, shiny surfaces, a slew of singles and eepees across the floor, and there was always a Mudhoney platter amongst it all.  That, and a cute chick you wanted to root.
 
And maybe two you already had, and were feeling a bit weird about, but maybe that was just the last bong you pulled, better have another line and a beer, fuck, play that “TOUCH ME I’M SICK!” record again.  What’s happenin’ at the Hopetoun?  What about the Landsdowne?  Fuck, I’m drunk.  Better have another line to pull me together.  Bloody hell, I’m really wired, I’ll roll a joint.  Shit, has this speed got legs or what?  What’s that, the Evening Star?  (Fucking hell, that short skirt looks good on you!)
 
Which was all kinda prophetic in a backwards way, cos I caught up with a whole buncha folks, some of whom I hadn’t seen in 12, 13 years, and I had a fucking great time.  Mudhoney made the night, I still wouldn’t know The Holy Soul if I sat next to ‘em at a bus-stop, and the Celibate Rifles…?
 
I’ve long appreciated the Metro’s proximity to an all-night burger&chips takeout.  That, and a couple of pubs where you can buy a beer without having to wonder how many meals you’ll end up missing next week.  So, sheer hunger made me miss the Soul, and I rocked back in to catch the Rifles.
 
It’s been around 22 years since I first caught this crew as a skinny kid sneaking out on a Saturday night (“Yeah mum, there’s a party at Phil’s place, yeah, I’ll be back by midnight.  No mum, midnight!  Okay?  Yeah, okay!”) and for almost all of those years, they’ve served as some sort of standard, a guaranteed worthwhile show, a good night out, and some feeling that all is okay with the world.  Or at least my part of it.
 
Maybe they had a rare off-night.  I sure hope so, ‘cos the Celibate Rifles were flat as a cement floor ready for tiling, and I wasn’t alone in this assessment.  Slipping out for a cig, a mate commented “The Rifles just aren’t doing it for me.”  Reclining on a couch in the side bar a few minutes later, I had to wonder why the Metro would bother installing a big screen with a cameras’ eye view of the stage, but no sound feed.  Back in those aforementioned days, you could sit downstairs in the Members Lounge at the Hopetoun and watch the band on telly and still catch the sound coming down the stairs with all the girls heading for the toilet.  So, now it’s the 21st century, shouldn’t there be a feed from the desk and/or a room mike matching the pictures?  Just a suggestion, y’know.  But a good one.
 
Mudhoney had a lot less amps, and smaller amps, too, than the Rifles.  They had better sounds, tho, and they were rocking, they were exciting.  There was something in the sound and the delivery (not in the mix, unfortunately, but, hey, if you paid too much attention to the mix you weren’t close enough to the stage, eh?) that swirled up a bit of blues, a bit of soul, a bit of punk and all rock and roll.  Pity that I can’t be more specific, but my puter collapsed a coupla days after the gig and I and I can’t remember everything I meant to write about…
 
But I had a great fucking time.  And if Steve Turner’s solo show was a folk thing, then why shouldn’t Mudhoney be folk?  Taken literally, it’s the music of folks, that’s folks like you and me.  Noisy bluesey punk rock and roll is OUR folk music, it makes our lives worth living (or you wouldn’t be reading this).
 
On another level, one of the best things about this show was Mudhoney’s bass guitarist, Guy Maddison.  “I haven’t played here for 12 years – it’s great to be back” – (or words to that effect).  He had the hugest grin on his face, digging the crowd surfers and all, thoroughly unlike what he’da seen playing with Lubricated Goat and Monroe’s Fur.  As much as I enjoyed those bands, they never really attracted any kinda crowd.  To see a good bloke and a great bass guitarist finally get some kinda kickback was not just a neat prize, but a rock and roll validation.
 
We grow older, smarter, wiser.  Everyone was healthy and seemed in gnerally better shape than when we were young and full of piss and vinegar, and all the rest of it.  Threre were a lot of blokes in t-shirts and jeans, jowly, either long-haired or shaved bald.  But everyone I knew looked with it, on top of it.
 
The line of the night goes to Simon: “Caroline’s daughter’s babysitting our kids.”  And he had to be up at 7:30 to go play golf in the Hunter Valley.  I remember Carolline’s daughter in the pram, and photoed in a B-side fanzine in a Killdozer T-shirt.  Yeah, growing up ain’t what it used to be.  It’s gotten a whole lot better since my dad was my age.  You too, I’ll bet.  Let’s make sure it keeps on getting better.  Don’t let the bastards grind you down.
 

 

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