Annandale Hotel, Sydney
Sunday, May 21 2006


Last stop Annandale, en route to Europe, for the New Christs and it’s a helluva strong bill tonight, even with Vindicator Smooth blowing out due to scheduling difficulties. I missed their replacement, the thoroughly enjoyable Mink Jaguar, because Louis Tillett was playing at the Sando but sometimes you just have to make hard choices.

Annandale’s not the Cote d’ Azur, especially in May, but quite a few punters are making a choice of their own - to come out on a Sunday night when the first chills of a so far mild Sydney winter setting in. It’s been a busy weekend with the Beasts of Bourbon in town on Friday and Nashville Pussy on Saturday, but there are plenty of familiar faces as the ‘Dale starts to fill to a comfortable level.   

Tonight was a more confident outing for the Passengers, which is only to be expected. There’s a good crowd in to catch them and they’re treated to the same set as the return show at the Iguana Bar a month earlier.
The opening tunes (“It’s Just That I Miss You” and “Love Execution”) are rapturously received, the others only a little less so through unfamiliarity. There’s a technical glitch with Jeff Sullivan’s mic turned off when time comes for his vocal on one of the newies, but other than that it all comes together so well.
The keyboards and drumming jobs are still vacant, but the quality of the songs is pretty self evident. While more shows might not happen for a while, given bassist Jim Dickson’s involvement in upcoming New Christs and Radio Birdman touring, go out of your way to catch them when they do re-appear. Recording plans are afoot, and we hope to interview Jeff at the Bar, when mutual schedules allow.
The pub’s more than half-full when the New Christs slip into place behind the anonymity of a projection screen. The squawls – no, explosions – of guitars as Dave Kettley and Brent Harrison manhandle their instruments give a clue as to how loud they’re going to be, well before the screen’s rolled up.
(If you missed something, Jim Dickson - Radio Birdman, The Passengers- on bass is doubling up for headliner’s money and the drummer is Stuart Wilson from the last New Christs line-up.)
“Headin’ South” hits with the sonic subtlety of a jumbo jet taking off. It’s in sharp contrast to the previous Friday’s night in the Gong, where 12 channels of PA was all you got and if you didn’t like it you could take it outside and piss it into the wind. The first show of the Euro tour is a Spanish festival with Dinosaur Jr the main attraction on that particular night, so the new New Christs were adjusting volume levels accordingly.  
I won’t post the set list because it would spoil it for the Europeans, but it’s about as close to definitive as you could hope for, considering the long life of the New Christs brand name and the two-dozen-plus line-ups that have played under the banner.
It can’t hurt to have a decent fold-back to hear yourself through and the band appears pretty relaxed and focussed. Rob’s in fine form, spitting out those bitter songs with their psychodrama/vengeance lyrics like whatever fuelled them happened yesterday.
I said most of it in the last review, but the sonic possibilities of having Brent doubling up on keyboards is only more obvious through a big PA. You can compare line-ups of this band until another Ramone drops off the twig but, like listening to rap, it’s pointless. Suffice to say this is a very good one that’s only going to improve with a tour under its belt, and hopefully will hang around long enough to record.

Click for slideshow

New Christs European Tour
SPAIN - Madrid - May 25; Gijon - May 26; Vitoria - May 27; Coruna - May 29; Alicante - May 31; Castellon - June 1; Barcelona- June 2; Bergara - June 3; FRANCE - Tulle - June 4; GERMANY - Bielefeld - Jun 7; FRANCE - Beauvais - June 8; BELGIUM - Antwerp - June 9; FRANCE - Paris - June 10.