+ THE M-16'S
Mojo's, North Fremantle
Saturday, December 1, 2007

Words and Picture: BEN MERWOOD

A moderate crowd had gathered well before proceedings started at Mojos Bar. For the uninitiated, Mojos has been serving up truly independent music on a weekly basis for longer than I can remember. So it stood to reason, that one of Australia’s best independent artists of the ages would stop in on their “Live at the Esplanade” tour.

Fitted with them on the bill for the nights shenanigans were the Painkillers and the M-16’s. Swayback and the Howlin’ Novacanes, who played the previous night as supports earned spots on the bench.

Without much notice Joe Bludge and James Baker shuffled onstage and didn’t waste any time getting started. It’s amazing with how vastly different their musical backgrounds are, how they manage to put together something that is coherent and catchy. The raw acoustics of Bludge’s rapid strumming punctuated the pumping backbeat, making for great garage soaked tunes in any era. Playing tracks from their album “Drunk On A Train”, the set seemed over before it had begun.

The M-16’s arranged and rearranged equipment in an attempt to have everything sounding absolutely ideal for their assault on tonight patrons. Ken Watt’s voice had returned and from the first song there was an energy unlike last week's performance at the Kryptonics show. “Kick Out Those Blues” from Loose Bullets made a welcome appearance amongst new ones such as “Graveyard Heart” and “Lordy Have Mercy”. Spiff Hopkins and Ken Watt were having a battle royale out front with their axes and enjoying every moment, as were the crowd. The way that Ken’s lead cuts through Spiffs surging chords is something to behold. With Brad Miller and Warren Hall holding down the rhythm section, this band is building an even stronger foundation than once held with previous drummer Adam Scullio.

After what was a tasty entrée it was time for the main course.   

Released earlier this year “Live At The Esplanade” is a definitive statement. The brutality of the performance has to be heard to be believed. Most people who turned up tonight pondered the eventuality of that being replicated in front of their eyes. The Lime Spiders finally sauntered on stage and it was time to find out.  

Ripping into “Out of Control” few were left with any preconceived notions that this was to be second rate. The volume put out by the band was nothing short of astounding. Mick Blood out front looked like Peter Coombe overcome by the devil, as his steely eyes perused onlookers almost with contempt. It was strange but pleasing, as it was this kind of deep-seated aggression needed to pull off a show of such intensity.

After “Silent Partner”, the first cover of the set list was dusted off. “Ain’t Nothin’ To Do” wasn’t as tight as some may have hoped for and let one punter to the edge of the stage. At the songs end he piped up “Why don’t you guys get yer skirts off”. Mick was not impressed at this remark in the slightest and asked the band to stop proceedings. Alas they had already jumped into “My Favourite Room” and the moment was lost. This didn’t stop Blood though from attempting to swat the heckler with his mike stand before he started the first verse. If he was harbouring some hostility, now it had a reason to be vented and was left to do so with his music. From that moment on the show changed, for the better  

After a rousing recital of “My Favourite Room” Blood had a chance for rebuttal. “…Come up here you prick and we’ll sort you right out” it was amazing stuff. Next off the ranks came “I Was Alone” the slow garage jaunt packed into all of two minutes. Following on, one of the tastiest tunes of the night, “Volatile” exploded soon after. With the pulsating drumming propelling the impressive guitar work it was essential viewing. Mick’s demonic snarl was in full force and suddenly it felt like being whisked away to the cloudy beaches of St Kilda and the Esplanade Hotel.

Amidst all the commotion caused by Volatile, the heckler returned to the front of the stage extending a beer to Mick Blood as a gesture of goodwill. He accepted with a wry grin on his face and a nod acknowledging the heckler’s concession of guilt. Everyone, even the interloper was in the palm of the band’s hand now and they were right where they wanted them.

One of the newer penned tunes “Dead Boys” preceded an excellent rendition of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Career of Evil”. Their version breathed new life into the song giving it a harder and rawer edge that created a seamless flow with the rest of their set. “Just One Solution” had patrons bouncing happily all around the bar and “Society of Soul” with its fierce intent emphasised that the Lime Spiders weren’t here to play nice.

The energy at this point inside the venue was electric and it seemed no better time to release the bomb that was “Slave Girl”. The first few notes descended on the crowd and they exploded. Punters at the front slammed into each other flailing wildly as the garage rocker ploughed into overdrive. It was a testament to the song that a reaction like this was displayed and showed that people still held it in high regard over 20 years after being recorded.

Through all the pandemonium it had become apparent that bass player Phil Hall had broken a string. Trying not to lose the freight train momentum they had developed, he was desperately endeavoring to repair it. Brad Miller came to the rescue supplying his bass for the ensuing number before things got out of hand. In hindsight was perhaps a good thing, as it subdued the crowd just enough to restore order which had dwindled in the flame of the previous number. “Save My Soul” further quelled the antics of the rowdy masses as the band seemed to take a collective breath.

Summoning another bout of fury “Beyond the Fringe” and “25th Hour” were unleashed. “Beyond The Fringe” is a little number hidden away on the b-side to “Slave Girl” but makes just as big an impact, if not greater, than the a-side. Richard Lawson’s careering drum roll gave into Mick Blood’s towering scream and the Lime Spiders were at their destructive best. “25th Hour” maintained that incredible tempo and before long the ear-splitting solo had died and the band wound down a truly memorable set.

Wound up as ever though, the crowd beckoned for more. They were rewarded shortly after having the band return for an encore. “Weirdo Libido” was played out to rapturous applause; however Phil Hall had problems with his bass again. A version of “Stone Free” followed and abruptly the band walked off leaving without performing the last mentioned tune on their set list “He’s Waiting”. A minor detail in the circumstances as few could argue at what they had just witnessed.

A brutally brilliant show by a band that seem more on top of their form than ever.