Annandale Hotel, Sydney

February 4, 2006

Words & pictures: STEVEN DANNO-LORKIN
Photo Gallery: RICHARD SHARMAN of Blackshadow Photography

In true showbusiness fashion - and after denying for months that they would play again (even following the release of a 2CD anthology) - the Thought Criminals announced that they would reform for one night only.

Admittedly, the Thought Criminals are not everyones cup o’ tea (especially in I-94 Ville), but I'm a big fan and would not have missed this for anything.

My first ever gig in a pub was the Thoughties at the Grand Hotel. I also saw a monster line up at the Stage Door Tavern, where they supported The Visitors and The Hitmen. But enough of my bragging...

Arriving fashionably late (9pm) to find the Annandale already packed and the house full sign up, I settle in for Punk Karaoke.

A novel concept of live band and volunteer “singers” for each “punk rock classic”, all the faves are run through. Yes, "Pretty Vacant", "I'm Stranded", "Love Song" and "Ever Fallen in Love With Someone". Karaoke Star of the night was Jon Scofield (Paul Kelly Coloured Girls, Grooveyard, and Wet Suits etc) with an emotionally/alcoholically-charged version of Sid's "My Way".

The all-star band, hosted by the immortal Greg Brady (formerly of the Greg Brady Overdrive plus Hush cover band, Shush), included members of Wet Suits, Sheek the Shayk, Young Doctuers, Deadly Hume and Revenge of Kaos.

The Thought Criminals came on shortly afterwards. The crowd goes berserk! (Well, as Berserk as a bunch overweight + drunk 40-plus-year-olds get).

I'm not even sure if the band got this kind of response back in the day. Sure (to quote the liner notes of the CD) they played to 1500 people at Chequers - but they were supporting bloody Icehouse that night!

First. came a cover version of Desperate Bicycles' "Xerox" (a big influence when the band was starting). It was a surprisingly atmospheric piece for an opening song (as far as punk rock goes). It's followed by a near Chronologically-ordered set.

The early period classics got huge responses, especially "Fun" and "More Suicides Please" .Some smartarse punter yelled out for "Quick Joey Small" (the bubblegum classic which is an “influence” on "More Suicides").

The only difference in sound of the Thoughties in 2006 is that Stephen Phillip is playing a Strat rather than his trademark Gibson S.G. So a different and cleaner guitar is heard (bring back the SG, Steve!) Also to my ears the volume in the main part of the room was low.

Some of the old songs benefited from a 25+ year gap. "So All the Superheroes" produced previously unheard hooks, which made the song all the more effective.

Twenty-four songs were performed, including most of "Speed Madness... Flying Saucers", plus a new original "40 Days" (a moody Magazine-ish piece written by singer Bruce Warner).

Surprisingly, keyboard player John Hoey (later of Died Pretty) played the entire set. Some of the more punkier/early songs may have been better off without keyboards. But hey!..That’s just my dumb opinion.

Nevertheless, it was a great night. The songs still sound great and the band appeared to be enjoying themselves. about a Rejex reunion, or Suicide Squad, or Rocks …..