The Crisps
Surry Hills Excelsior
Friday April 4, 2003


It was a rainy Friday night when I entered the Excelsior at Surry Hills to witness the launch of the new X EP, the aptly-named "I Love Rock’n’Roll" (even in the fucking rain).

After an hour or two sipping on a few soothing libations (to ease the hangover which followed the Celibate Rifles the night before) The Crisps came to the stage – a 4 piece guitar band featuring a twin guitar attack, bass and a sharp drummer who also handles lead vocal duties. Tonight was their fifth show they played tightly and have several good songs that are definitely worth more than one listen.

Following the departure of The Crisps the rapidly swelling crowd was treated to a rather bizarre performance from Hubris – a cabaret style act most famous for a song about being up all night and totally wired and debating whether to watch the cartoons or the news. The main force of Hubris is the lead singer who a couple of songs into her set proceeded to lose her dress and perform in bra and panties and to assault various members of the audience – including straddling one guy on the floor after a rant about how she wanted John Howard’s pearls. Mildly amusing for 10 or 15 minutes but after that, the bar became more interesting.

Then time for the main event – and the last time I saw X was in July 2001 after an absence of many years. I was looking forward to seeing the new line-up, and hoping they would continue to deliver the great rock shows I have been seeing them perform since 1984.

The band strode to the stage to a warm reception and immediately launched into their set – it was as though they had never been away they trotted out their old standards such as "The Feel", "Degenerate Boy", "Good On Ya Baby", "I Don't Want To Go Out", "TV Glue", "Dream Baby", "Mother", "Half Way Round The World", "You Say That You Love Me But You Really Don't Care", "Oxford Street Nick", "Dipstick", "Batman", "Moving On", "It's All Over Now", "Police" and "El Salvador", along with the five tracks from the EP ("Ooh Baby", "Where Did I Go Wrong?" - great song! - "I Love Rock'n'Roll", "Hey You" and "One More Chance").

X were on stage for close to twohours - no encore, but what a show. The addition of the Geoff Holmes on guitar in no way diminished their sound - in fact, in some songs, it adds extra power - and the new drummer Kath Synnerdahl was awesome. X are still a feel band that allows all players to find their places and spaces in the sound. Rilen's bass was thunderous - Steve Lucas's guitar was at times tender at times a vicious assault, Geoff Holmes guitar was all tight riffs, Lucas's vocals were awesome in both their power and range and it was all backed by Kath's powerhouse drumming.

My highlight of the night was the rendition of "Don’t Cry No Tears", a song I can’t recall ever seeing them perform live – it was not the acoustic type album version - it was full on electrification. It was preceded by "Waiting", which was as slow and brooding and heavy as anything - and quite malevolent.

There was plenty of audience interaction, including a buxom blonde throwing her bra at Steve Lucas, a headstand on stage from their lighting guy while the band kept playing and the drummer being drenched in water.

Once again X proved they are one of the all time great live rock bands - and it’s great to see them back on stage where they belong!

X's "I Love Rock and Roll" is out now on Laughing Outlaw.