THE NEW CHRISTS
The Orange House, Munich, Germany
Sunday, May 25, 2008

By ANTHONY HEALEY

The Orange Haus is a small venue with a pretty small stage in an old former factory complex. I arrived at the start time (8:30) as printed on the ticket and found myself alone apart from the barman, the ticket girl on the door and two other slightly bewildered-looking punters. Even though I didn't expect the band to come on until later I had a bit of a bad feeling about the turnout. Munich crowds can be unpredictable: In 2004 Kim Salmon and the Scientists played in the perfect venue for them for an audience of about
twenty-five.

A local hard-rock-with-rockabilly-tendencies-sort-of-band supported. Their name escaped me but the guitarist is a familiar face on the scene – he's actually pretty good technically but has an irritating personality – and is known for changing his band's name to suit theme nights. From the performance tonight I have a feeling he might have been at the Vegas Kings' gig here late last year.

My mate, who is a sometime muso from the 80's Sydney-scene were sitting outside enjoying the warm Spring evening when first Jim strolled past, followed a little later by the rest of the band, Rob being greeted with a few "goodonyas" in German.

The new single has been delayed in pressing and is not expected to be available on the tour.

By the time The New Christs came on the crowd had grown, but only to about 40-50 not exactly raging souls. To their credit the band gave their all, as you would expect. They also gave off a pretty relaxed impression, looking as if they were having a good time and comfortable with each other. Even Rob seemed in a good mood, certainly better than when I saw The Birdmen in Ulm last October – admittedly on that night they were cursed by the foldbacks dropping out and later the lead mic failing. Tonight there were
plenty of old "Christian" favourites (the crowd was calling for "Like a Curse" and "Dropping Like Flies" - and were duly obliged) and the new material seemed to flow in seamlessly.

Two encores seemed to satisfy everybody on and off the stage.

Rob sat sweating on the stage lip chatting, so I thought "Why not?" and peeled a gig poster from the foyer and invited him to sign it, to which he cheerfully obliged. Noting my accent he asked where I was from, which explains the resulting comment "From Cabramatta to München" – he even managed the umlaut rather than writing "Munich", which is cool.

Having just seen the Radio Birdman tombstone on the I-94 Bar website I took a mental deep breath and asked if it was true that the they'd really been laid to rest (again). Referring a bit evasively to "......the other band..." he said yes, they have finished. Well, shit! I didn't think it would be tactful or welcome to draw him further on the subject so I let it drop. By that stage Dave, the lead guitarist, had strolled over for a relaxed chat about music and Wollongong for about 10 minutes.

Later we wandered out to the entrance and again in the warm Spring evening were joined by rhythm guitarist/keyboardist Brent who spent a good half hour talking music and the Sydney scene with my mate. He said the band was pretty philosophical about what I'd thought was a disappointing turnout – sometimes they're big, sometimes small, Sundays tend to be quiet like Tuesdays (?) – but in general the tour was going well. Next stop, Cologne.

 

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