Penny takes it to the streets of Basque Country

Zona Zero
Urrextu, Basque Country,
October 28th, 2006

From GARRY GRAY ON the frontlines in Basque Country

I met up with Penny Ikinger Inc in Nimes, France and then hit the 'Road to Rodez' which inevitably wound down passing Gothic cathedrals, crossing the Pyrenees and on into the heart of the Basque Country....

Penny Ikinger's three-piece group for her first tour in Europe, featuring France's finest, Vinz Guilluy from Holy Curse/Dimi Dero Inc on bass and Dimi Dero of Dimi Dero Inc on drums, has cut a swathe though France and Spain.

The campaign reached another peak in Urrextu, a village deep in Basque Country. The venue, Zona Zero, was full and the crowd got a revolution in music and responded with wild enthusiasm.

Penny kind of got everyone’s attention in a shimmering silver dress, launching a simultaneous attack on guitar, opening with "Down The South Road", the group showing signs of unleashing a capacity to push the outside of the envelope usually only heard from the finest independent Australian groups.

Penny shifted into the 5th dimension in her guitar playing and her vocals tapped further into the feelings that her songs evoke and summon up in the listener with "Shipwrecked".

"Andalucian Man", psychedelic and sexy, the rhythm section producing a feel as smooth as the silk gloves of an Air France stewardess.

"Kathleen”: Well if this song doesn't make you ache somewhere, you're clinically dead, and on this occasion it was dedicated to me.... so go figure....

And as the kaleidoscope of sound unfolded in "The One I Sent Away", and Penny's presence drew  the crowd closer,  and as she sang: "his footsteps disappeared without a trace", the crowd were somewhere in awe.

"Spinster" was next. Things kinda shifted here, kinda reminded me of the Stooges song "Dirt", with a kind of attack and intensity I hadn't seen in it before.

"Into The Slipstream" followed. Why don't you go and see Penny in Melbourne and request it? It's a gem. The Basque people went Planet of the Apes over it.

"Stuck Inside" went white light white heat gone gone gone never showing signs of "discipline", rather pure experimentation...for those of you into pub rock, I mean it was "farkin ace".

Guitar snarled in the intro to "Poison Berries"....Operation Overlord in full flight....the juggernaut, 'one step, two steps...."I tread lightly, I travel so slow… Crush those berries you're better off dead"... and the Basque People counting "one step, two steps"...mighty fearful of those poison berries...and nowhere to run. Yeah, they were wild about it.

So, this was the last song in the set, or was it? A coup de grace to be sure. The group had cut loose with verve and passion throughout the set and the crowd weren't in the mood to be left behind just yet, the exits were blocked.

I'd kinda comfortably long since slipped into some kinda Hemmingway tourist mode in the crush of Basque hospitality....waiting for the encores to be delivered...

Next thing you know, the group is asking me to get up and sing a tune with them.

In retrospect, I think Dimi describes what happened best, he called it the "Metallic KO version of "Run Run Run'". Yes folks, 19 minutes, and not one second the same as wasn't hard to slip "into the slipstream".

Dimi and Vinz driving the Tsunami, and Penny...the star of the show, swerving from the subtle textual two chord boogie rhythms of the original into traversing the rich lands of everything from "European Sun" and "All Tomorrow's Parties" to "Sister Ray"...and then you realise Penny is actually not doing that, she's doing Penny Ikinger...and the guest lead singer finds himself being Garry Gray....working with Penny this time is creating something new and exploration of form and structure....expression.

The song ends with Dimi taking his drums off stage, down on the dance floor with me.

Farkin Ace, punters. Do yourself a favour. Cross the fields of snow to Penny's next show. And check Penny's myspace to hear how well it all works on "Run Run Run", the eight-minute Rodez version