Excelsior Hotel, Surry Hills
Sunday, May 4, 2008

Words & Pictures: THE BARMAN

It was T-Minus 2 for departure to Europe but they spared us a cover of “Leaving on a Jet Plane”. The New Christs nonetheless threw a few other interesting things our way over the course of a two sets/no support band workout on a Sunday evening.

The vibe was relaxed, convivial and good-humoured as the Excelsior’s band room filled to comfortable levels. The night didn’t reach the volume levels of the Annandale gig the month before but it was loud enough. Where tonight did crucially vary was in the range of new songs – some of which were slower ones which is fine by me.

Attention trainspotters: You can’t have definitive names for the newies yet (I’m translating from a hand-written set list - it looks like the person who scrawled it spent lots of time hanging out with doctors) and some may well change before being committed to a new album. Just be assured that they won’t sit out of place with the rest of the canon of “typical” New Christs material.

There's a smouldering one called "Table 5" (although I might be out by a digit), the hooky one "Bonjour Bonsoir" previewed at the Annandale the month before (and an obvious set closer with that name) and two others. Most of the set comes from "We Got This" with stalwarts like "Burning of Rome" and the always bracing "Coming Apart" hanging in for good measure.

If you never thought you’d hear the New Christs playing Cream’s “Badge” then you never saw the manifestation of Rob Younger’s love for Brit music of the ‘60s and early ‘70s manifest itself in the shape of his early 2000s cover band Nanker Phelge. I can’t recall them doing this one but no matter. Like Cream, it kinda went to pieces towards the end.

The Doors' "Summer's Almost Gone" was out of left field but was a handful of songs away from Love's "Comes In Colours", which was not an inappropriate placement, considering both bands came form the same town.

If you're going to single out covers, a ripping take on The Sunsets' "Hot Generation" was the pick of the first bracket and even came with a namecheck for its writer Lindsay Bjerre. Mucho respect.

Maybe it was the early start tonight, the receptive crowd in the comparatively intimiate room or the copious beers being handed up to the people on stage, but the New Christs were the band that kept on giving. "I Need You" rattled along in style as the crowd kept asking for more. And they got more. “The Black Hole” was the fifth (!) encore and damn near blew everyone away.

In its original form, I recall Charlie Owen sometimes had trouble riding that big wave of sustained feedback all the way through at some gigs (although you could probably blame the battered state of his gear which used to do some substantial mileage.) There was one Sunday night when he looked like he wanted to take an axe (and I don't mean a guitar) to his speaker cabinet at a St George Budapest gig in Sydney’s south. That it takes both present-day guitarists Dave and Brent to nail the song and bring it to its logical conclusion tonight is no shame. They both appeared to be having a ball with it.

So, off to Europe. There'll be a limited edition 7" single on sale at the gigs (and hopefully enough copies left over for Australian punters to procure upon the band's return.) If you're a lucky European punter and you're planning to catch them, the dates are below. Check with venues, of course. Bonjour bonsoir.

11.5. F ˆ Limoges ˆ La Fourmi
12.5. F - Paris - La Locomotive
14.5. F - Clermont Ferrand - La Coope
15.5. E - Burgos - Studio 27
16.5. E - Bilbao - Cafe Antzokia
17.5. E - Madrid - Gruta 77
18.5. E - Castellon - Sala Japan
20.5. F - Montpellier - The Secret Place
21.5. I - Milano - Musicdrome
22.5. I - Rome ˆ Init
23.5. I ˆ Cosenza ˆ B-Side
24.5. I - Cesena - Rocca Malatestiana
25.5. D - München - Orange House
27.5. D - Köln - Sonic Ballroom
28.5. D - Dresden ˆ Starclub
30.5. D - Berlin - White Trash
31.5. S- Uddevalla ˆ Mortens Krog
01.6. S - Stockholm - Debaser
02.6. N ˆ Oslo ˆ Last Train
03.6. S ˆ Malmö KB
04.6. D ˆ Hamburg ˆ hafenklang