Posted June 17, 2009

NEW CHRISTS
+ BIRDBRAIN
+ THE CLAYMORES
Winsome Hotel, Lismore, NSW
Sunday, August 16, 2009


Words: EARL O'NEILL
Photo: RICHARD SHARMAN of Blackshadow Photography

It’s 26 years since I first caught The New Christs and since I was heading up to Lismore for my girlfriend’s birthday it seemed only right to hang around and enjoy her company for another week and catch them. I know a few people up that way and if I didn’t see them before Sunday, I’d see them at the gig.

I took a lot of twisty back roads, making a two day journey of one I’ve done in nine straight hours. Gassing up in Armidale, I spoke to two motorcyclists at the servo. They asked where I was headed – “To Lismore via the Nymboida Road.”

“We’re going that way, want to stick with us?”

I looked at their sportsbikes and politely declined, then beat them to the Nymboida pub by 10 minutes.

Riding a great road for the first time is one of life’s real joys and the Nymboida Road is a beauty. It’s narrow, twisty, patched and you’ll find yourself wondering if the front wheel is in touch with the road for the next
corner, such is its random humping nature. I had a blast, then a different blast up Summerland Highway where I redlined it in top gear.

I got to Lismore, rode into the space beneath the house and threw my arms around Tanya before I even took my helmet off. Fuck, was I happy to see her! We celebrated her birthday the next day as a couple of long-haired
Bohemians would, then all the women arrived for the party. It’s the second party I’ve been to at her house and I’m still the only male guest aside from her son. Much vodka, rum, and wine was consumed and when the
oestrogen got a bit too much for me I visited the bloke next door for a smoke and a look at his beautifully restored BSA Gold Star. It really is a honey of a bike – sitting in his upstairs loungeroom. He’d started
building it for him and his wife to ride on and she died of cancer. He didn’t say so, but I knew that he’d finished it as a memorial to her and was unlikely to ever get it down the stairs.

Tanya and I spent a lot of time lovin’ each other up and practicing being a family. Saturday evening I visited a mate whose ex is the licensee of the Winsome. We drank beer and his son sat on my knee while we watched the
footy. After leaving I stopped in at the pub and the licensee gave me a few free beers. “See you tomorrow night” she said as I left. She sure was excited about having The New Christs play at her pub.

Tanya, Marion and I rocked in there in time to catch The Claymores, a combo from Brisbane who must have many of the same records I do. There was a Sonics cover and a lot of Nuggets-type stuff. Fact is, I was too busy
greeting Graeme and Anne and Georgie and David and meeting some new folks to pay much attention to them, but whenever I did, they sounded great.

Next up was local band Birdbrain and I missed a chunk of their set outside on the balcony talking to Graeme about what we’d been doing the last several years, but I walked in just as they played ‘Don’t Wanna Know If
You Are Lonely’. Later, talking to the singer I congratulated him on a good set and remarked that I was surprised to hear that song. “Everyone says that” he replied with a grin.

And then it was time. I grabbed a beer and took my preferred spot – up front with the volume. And wasn’t there some volume! Holy New Christ, the band was loud. They were tight, hard-hitting and together, as only a
band that’s just spent time and effort making a record and touring Europe can be.

I was unfamiliar with a lot of the set, being from ‘Gloria’ and, for reasons we’ll get to, I didn’t get a chance to grab a set list. Still, we heard ‘Like A Curse’, ‘I Swear’, ‘Burning Of Rome’ and ‘The Seeker’ among others. There was a lot of dancing and leaping about (some almost psychopathically so) and some drop-jaw stares of amazement. Lismore has never seen a band this good. They had a sheer drive and intensitya dynamic rhythm that pushed the songs along, a brace of screaming guitars and keyboards and Rob Younger in fine form, singing dancing, dropping one liners between songs that I couldn’t really catch cos I was standing too close to the PA.

One thing that never occurred to me before is Rob’s charisma. Tanya has never seen Radio Birdman or The New Christs but commented later on his voice, his stage presence, his dancing and the way he absolutely inhabited the songs. She dug his boots, too.

They returned for the encore and played a devastating version of Black Hole, must’ve been at least six minutes of wild insanity. In a set that was already one of the best shows I’ve seen in years and the best New Christs gig in a looong time, this was utterly fucking awesome, I’m up front, leaning against the PA and I said so to Dave. “Gee, thanks” he said: “How you going?”

 

Just as the next song started, my mate who I’d watched footy with is next to me, plucking my sleeve. The licencee grabs my arm and we all walk to the doors at the back of the room. I’m wondering if I’m to get a free vodka, lime & soda or they want a talk, but the only talking was from the bouncers who informed me I had to leave. They didn’t look too impressed by it and I was outside thinking “What the fuck just happened? I’ve known them 12 years and thought they were friends.”

So I climbed the side fence and walked up to the rear balcony where one of the bouncers, rather embarrassed by the whole thing, recommended I not go back in, but it was okay if I stayed outside. The band came out after the encore and I congratulated them on an awesome fucking show and was talking to Rob about the benefits of a European tour to sharpen a band up when some more of the staff were sent over to see Tanya and me out.

They obviously weren’t thrilled about it and I wasn’t gonna cause a scene with them – it’s not their fault, after all - so we left. So that’s what it’s like to be stabbed in the back by someone you thought was a friend, I thought. Not a good feeling. Run a petty power play on me and my girlfriend? Well...

In the car two days later, I said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we drove past the Winsome and the cops were there?” And what do you know? They were!

Turns out the licensee was evicted by the owner. I may have ending up knowing more about this saga than the locals but to hell with the details – that’s just karma for you!

That’s honest-to-goodness hotshit rock and roll for you. It strips everything back to its essential core and lays it bare for the world to know. If you read this before Friday 21 August, you better get yourself along to The New Christs show at the Excelsior that night so you can say: “Yeah, I was there and it was fucking awesome!”

 

 

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