DAVE GRANEY & THE MISTLY
Wheatsheaf Hotel, Adelaide
September 1, 2012

By ROBERT BROKENMOUTH

Share There are few entertainers who get rocknroll so comprehensively as DG.

It's all there: the bludgeoning wit, the bragadoccio, the comments about sex-death-drugs&rocknroll, the self-referential spirit - and the songs, oh, my the songs.

Here's the set list so you know I was there; it wasn't quite like this but 'whatever' as the young folks say (I am told).

'sometimes you / midnite 2 dawn/ you wanna be loved/ midnite cats/ wolverine/ too hip/ life's a dream/ mt gambier nite

I'm not the guy/ the stars/ flash/ champion/ cop this/ you wanna be there/ I don't wanna know/ release yr soul/ sporty/ rock'

there were three songs on the encore but I was dizzy with too many lemonlime&bitters and can only recall a superb, legendary version of rnr is where I hide.

Now. Back in the real world, away from the cosy retro beer garden of the wheety, Status Quo are returning to Australia for the first time in a generation: tix went on sale recently for a gig at thebby in April. Seven fucking months away. And it'll sell out, you know it will. And there will probably be another gig announced. Are they entertaining? Comments from various fb chums indicate not (I believe the phrase indicated something about paint dry).

Irrelevant, really. DG is the consummate entertainer. I mean, he can do the lot. We who have observed this gent over the years know he could piss all over the ABC's 'comedy' shows, could run a better 'project' than 10, not to mention a breakfast or brunch show. Hell, for all I know the man talks to dolphins and killer whales in his spare time.

We've been going to see the big DG whenever we can over the last few years. I confess I've not been able to front up for several years, but I'm making up for it.

We used to see the Sputniks at the Union Hotel in Adelaide. $2 door charge. It's $20 now at the Wheatsheaf Hotel; if you do your sums I guess it's probably about the same. They'd usually do two or three sets - three if it was only them that night. We'd have to miss the last set 'cause the last set started just as the last bus was leaving - to the northern suburbs. There's only a handful of things in my life I really really regret - four of them to do with music - and one is that I never just said stuff the bus, I'll walk. Each time.

Us old farts, eh? Listen to us whine.

Were the Sputniks brilliant? No, but the songs were pretty good and Dave - who stood up front in a skin-tight purple or was-it-red three-piece suit dancing, hollering and bellowing, 'dig it, kids!'

If you know anyone who needs killing, and you have a live recording of the Sputniks, get in touch. I'm sure something could be arranged.

In our ten year absence from roughly 97, Dave has emerged as a rock god. It's not enough that Gene Simmons and Ted Nugent have been copping his moves, it has been whispered that the chirpy, deaf, long-haired loon himself, Angus Young is a huge fan, but DG won't allow him in the venue. John Frusciante visited Melbourne in a fruitless attempt to lassoo DG into working on his solo lps. Over the last few years, Keef has repeatedly asked DG to open for the Stones, but DG is playing coy and hasn't answered. That's the real reason, my sources whisper, that the Stones aren't touring yet; they're hoping DG will get back to them with a sensible figure. Sting has begged him (on several heated occasions) for guitar lessons. And, the real reason the BDO is, well, not up there as much as we'd like it to be is that DG and the Mistly aren't on the bill. Go on, bet you didn't know half of that, did you?

Yeah, you can laugh. Go on, snicker, I've got all fucking day.

Dave Graney is one of Australia's most precious gems and, typically, we don't know the bugger's born. I mean we're fucking cultured, right?

Fucking right.

See, Australia is so far from anywhere we figure whatever we do is right, no-one's gonna tell us off, so what the fuck, let's get pissed. Or stoned. And so on.

We're kinda like delinquent children in that way. Charming for about twenty seconds until we throw up in the sink and block it with squashy purple lumps.

And, we all think we're never gonna grow up. When you see dorks in their fifties on skateboards (I mean, think what you like, skateboards have never been cool, and never will be; surfing is cool, skateboards are, well, just dumb. I mean, if you're dumb, why advertise? It's not streetwise, it's juvenile and old and boring) you begin to wonder why more people don't run amuck with a sawn-off.

Well, alright, you don't, but I do.

So, I think that's it in a nutshell. It's not that Australian's don't 'get' DG, it's that the majority are too busy not being bothered about anything much in particular except texting and shit.

No? I work in a damn fine bookshop. It's quiet. I go out into the main shopping drag and just about have a heart attack at all these dopey looking characters schlepping about, bored bored bored and not doing anything about it except schlepping up and down the shopping drag.

It's kinda like what I imagine a crowded Mount Gambier to be, except without all the drugs. In fact, DG implies in song and his book that the reason more Mount Gambier people never ran amuck with a sawn-off is because of the drugs.

Hang on, I might have got that wrong.

Bugger.

Where were we?

Ah, yeah.

DG.

And Clare Moore (they've been together for what... 35 years? That's beautiful.) and Stu Thomas and Stu Perera.

Music for grown-ups. Which is why Australian's don't get it, why Dave and Clare and the Stus are not the centrefold in the Australian. See, his songs are as personal and as revealing - if not more so - than the likes of anyone else, he just doesn't go out and pretend that emotion. He's an entertainer. So he has this front (the English expression, 'more front than Harrods' springs to mind, to be instantly discarded. Harrods looks like a bad wedding cake decoration compared to His Heaviness), like loads of other performers have had a front, to protect the vulnerability within. So, everyone sees the front and reacts to it - but not, oddly to the music. Yet he's the top package, really. Of the major radio stations here, even housewife and plumber radio like SAFM or Nova should be playing his music. Thing is, it's like putting a random  6ts Stones track in the middle of the usual rotation: it stands out so much, sounds so much more inventive and interesting, they can't play stuff like that for long without the advertisers complaining: after all, advertising has to stand out more than the music the radio plays; I mean, isn't that why Boz Skaggs was invented?

Now, I'm not gonna say every song DG does is brilliant. I'm just gonna say every one is bloody good, inventive and ... you keep watching, waiting to see where the band will go. See, no-one much is looking. So, instead of squabbling and getting hopelessly pissed every day and telling ourselves it's fun instead of deathly dreary, DG and co tinker with their stuff. Every time I've seen them they do some old songs. Like most bands, sure. The difference is that because the feel of each lp is so unique, the feel of the current lp inevitably seeps into the live set. It's like they can't help it. Yeah, I know, if you go and see Status Quo you see a very one-dimensional thing, but you know what you're in for. Ditto accadacca. It's a template thing; that's what draws the crowd in. Time stands still in 1973 and Francis Rossi has had a haircut but that's all; 40 years on they'll play Adelaide and time will have stood still for 40 fucking years.

Time can't stand still around DG, is all I'm saying. It's fascinating watching him travel, change and beguile himself as much as us. Always the same, maybe in one sense, but always different. Clare Moore's drumming is superb. She gives the impression she can do anything without breaking into a sweat. And she and Stu Thomas are a killer, inyourface but not overpowering rhythm section. Thomas' bass is so tuff, so fuckin liquid... I mean, DG's most famous bassist is arguably Chris Walsh - but live, it could unbalance the band (and I saw them often enough to know - fuck off) although there were a couple of times I didn't care, I could've stood next to the bass bin for hours... anyway, Thomas' bass is an entity. Stu Perera's guitar is understated, perfectly timed and an exquisite thing to watch; he's another cool player, looks like he never sweats. DG himself, apparently a perfectionist, cutting a sharp figure, ludicrous but self-aware and ... because of it, the strength and power he puts out... yeah, you do have to pay attention. So what? If you don't pay attention to your gamebox or whatever you lose the game. But DG is real. Miss this band? Reality is passing you by. You may as well go on the piss for the rest of your wasted life. The Australian way.

Oh, you want a description of what they did and how they did it?

No.

Go see him. Do better than this review (more of a rant, really, but if you haven't seen DG or bought a cd in the last year, you deserve it). It won't be hard. Just get out there.

 

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