DIMI DERO INC.
+ ADULT BOOKSTORE
+ ROBERT BROKENMOUTH AND THE HELL WITH YOU
Grace Emily Hotel, Adelaide
October 14, 2010
Words: ROBERT BROKENMOUTH
Pictures: CARBIE WARBIE
Resting the remains of my gin and tonic - purely medicinal, I thank you - on the table outside the Grace Emily Hotel, I give up on Lewis-Williams' "The Mind in the Cave:. My thoughts are revolving: what on earth possessed these people to shinny down into a deep, thin cave and worm and splosh their way kilometres under the earth, to finally paint pictures of bulls, deer, mammoths and leave their handprints..? I guess we'll never know.
What on earth possesses Clanger to put live music on every night of the week, pay the starving musicians, refuse to do shots and alcopops and pokies and lock-ins and all the rest of it? He's to be admired for it, really, but do you think the pollies come down to pat the bloke on the head? Do they pigswill.
Dimi Dero Inc are arriving imminently. They've taken 10 hours to drive from Melbourne, after last night's live to air at PBS radio, shortly after landing from a Paris to Melbourne flight, which took off shortly after they did their last Paris show for a while. Maybe we're not so different from primitive man after all.
I'm anxious about my partner, Mandy, I fret that the band are lost, I worry that no-one will turn up. I worry that an accident will befall one of my own band, The Hell With You, or that we will be pelted with rotting vegetables. I imagine a gnarled little chap setting up his stand outside the pub: Get Your Rotten Vegetables Here! Robert Brokenmouth On at Ten O'Clock.
Most of all, though, I hope things go well tonight.
The van is a big'un, filled with gear and Frenchmen. It pulls up - I know their names and faces but not who is who. Pascal introduces himself, fumbling to haul out his ciggies and lighter. Vinz is next, and does the same. Aha! You must be Jean-Luc! He lights up as well. As does the man of the hour, Dimi Dero. I quickly explain to Allison, their driver/ handler/ wrangler/ merch seller, that there is a decent sized sofa to sleep on, so she won't have to make do with the floor. She looks pretty pleased at this. Looking like bohemians caught by Franco's Fascists during the Spanish Civil War, the band are smoking like it's their last before the firing squad. I kinda feel like I'm back behind the bike sheds at school.
We haul the gear inside, through the dark and up the stairs. I explain the rules: keep the door locked. Bunk beds, they say, cool. Having made our brief acquaintance, we tumble back down and off to get something to eat. The sky looks down greyly. Bloody hell.
We amble off, making small talk. They're tired, jetlagged, Dimi has a cold and they've just got out of a van doubtless smelling of other band's farts. They are polite, there are no berets or stripey tops, no-one says 'sacre bleu' or has an accent straight from Monty Python. They don't even smoke Gauloises.
I point out the few landmarks. That's a joint where drunk teenage girls to to pick up drunk footballers. That kind of thing.
We wander up the main foodie drag, Gouger Street, and settle on Ying Chow, which has purposeful, determined waiters and excellent, inexpensive fare. We settle down and, in typical wild men of rock order a beer and a light meal. That's it. Dimi's is the last to arrive, so conspiracy theories abound until we remember he asked the garlic to be taken out of his noodles, and it took the chef a while to do this...
While we ponder the methods of chinese chefs and garlic-averse Frenchmen, the sky starts to dribble. Allison assures me she can guide the band back so, flinging down some money I hurry off to meet Mandy before she drowns. The rain decides it likes us especially. We arrive at the Grace, the band traipse back and the Adult Bookstore unload their gear, including the precious amps without which none of us can play except comically and rather quietly. James hands me the electric drill Dimi wanted to borrow. The next couple of hours are a bit blurry, a whir of faces and suchlike, Mandy doing her spectacular thing on the door, until the Adult Bookstore start to make a horrid noise in an effort to get the sound right.
I've seen the Bookstore many times, and tonight is special. They've put together quite a raucous set, Timmy using feedback in that careful, precise way he has, kinda strangulated, while Tom and Tim set up that modest structure which so enhances their songs. Timmy's vocals are spot-on tonight, and James (aka Dimi, don't ask) is his usual self, making the simple look complex and the complex look simple. Satisfying.
After rounding up The Hell With You, I caused much hilarity as I enquired of musicians how to turn the mike on. Can I be heard, I enquired later. Yes!, James gritted out. Another Minogue I'm not. Anyway, Hermann had his usual sinuous fun with the bass riffs, Mike putting his four-string Jason through hell, and the guitar-shaped cd player bellowed in the background. I tried to make myself heard and maybe I was. There was applause and even cheers. Probably Mandy.
Mandy was happy and Dimi was smiling, so that was alright. We pull our dreadful stuff off and hide it, like cats hiding their poo, in the bandroom.
Dimi Dero Inc took a short while to get the sound right, then walloped the punters with a huge club of a sound. You know you're seeing something which could be history in the making when you realise how damn good this would be if the band could have a bigger stage, bigger amps...
Tight as a flea on a mangy, three-headed dog, Dimi Dero Inc flow from song to song like restless big cats, Dimi pausing every now and again to apologise for being an arrogant Frenchman. Jean-luc plays an impressive, loud Gretsch, Dimi plays what looks like a significantly battered Fender and left-handed Vinz plays a bass of some sort. Pascal hammers the shit out of James' drumkit. Thunderous, marvellous, sublime.
The band move on the small stage like there's not enough space. Dimi leaves the stage and runs around waving his electric drill. At one point you can see Pascal clearly because the others are all bent over howling instruments. Trying to photograph them is a fool's errand, they just keep moving. Everyone's iphones will show enigmatic blurs.
Most of the new album is played tonight, "Cremation Day in the Court of Miracles". There's a couple of older songs, and a cover of a Motorhead song. The one track Jean-Luc sings sounds like a brilliant Iggy Pop song which he forgot about. I'll say this about the lyrics: they're smart as paint and, on their own, you'd prick up your ears. Live, you're pulled straight to the stage like calf on the end of a rope. If you're not familiar with the cd, get it. But the cd cannot come close to expressing the live DDI. If you like the CD and don't go to see them, you're a fucking idiot. Simple as that.
All too soon it's over. We howl for an encore, but too late, they've done all the songs they know. And they're stuffed to boot. Everyone staggers about looking like they've been thwacked by a large dead fish. No-one can quite believe it, can't believe it's over, don't want it to be over. Some people have tears in their eyes.
The finalities are dragged around, money, gear, packing up, stepping over drunk people, promises to keep in touch. Dimi hands me back James' drill. We head upstairs to drink some Wirra Wirra Church Block and try not to fall asleep. Mandy and I escape into the rainy night to find a cab, our heads whirling and synapses clicking like arthritic beetles.