Barwon Club, Hotel Geelong
October 7, 2011
Words and photos by PAUL WINDOW
ShareThis was the first show of the Creepers’ east coast tour in support of the release of their first LP “12 Days to Paris” being re-issued on CD through Fuse, with a neat bonus disc of rare demos and live tracks. The band members have rarely performed in recent times apart from Paul Thomas grinding out those lead breaks and delicate pedal steel licks with Chris Altman’s Que Paso and Archie Law keeping the beat with The Cool Charmers after settling in Sydney a few years ago.
Rob Craw reminds us of how good he is sporadically with great vocal performances, more recently at a fundraiser for 3RRR FM‘s ghost who walks, Stephen Walker, delivering a great version of Iggy’s "Johanna". Matthew Eddy’s (insert collective noun for rare bass guitars) of bass guitars remain finely tuned and effortlessly come time life when required.
The band put in a blistering undercard performance with the Stems about a year ago at The Corner in Richmond and certainly showed they still had it. Maybe not a knockout but this biased judge would award the victory on points, as would many parochial local fans.
In the ‘80s Geelong was a happy hunting ground for the Creepers, who held the house record at The Barwon Club for some time. Rob liked Geelong more than the other guys as he could slip away for surf either pre gig or the next day. This leads me to a little known fact of Creepers trivia, certainly relevant to the region. In 1985 the band had a lunchtime gig at Deakin Uni. The tertiary circuit was a blast in those days, many touring bands from Sydney would play an afternoon set with the cheapest of beer flowing in copious amounts.
Now remember this was pre-mobile phones; Rob had been down surfing around the Torquay region and was incommunicado. He either did not want to play because the surf was so good or just simply forgot. Anyway the Huxton three-piece soldiered on without him. Paul and Matthew did an admirable job covering the vocal duties until the red and green bricks kicked in (Melbourne and Victoria Bitter cans) and the student body were treated to improvised versions of “Slip Slap Fishin’”, which morphed into “Ten Outlaws”, then “Ring of Fire”! And the memorable “Wild Thing” with Paul’s original vocal interpretation “Viking, you make my axe swing.” Paul closed the gig by saying “don’t be afraid to come and see us with a proper singer!” Twenty-six years later we had the chance.
Support act Wolfy & the Bat Cubs were most entertaining and provided welcome respite from the bellowing public bar jukebox, or do you say some bar staff’s iPod on shuffle? Whatever it was, it was bloody awful. Their long jams showed courage and indulgence beyond their years.
The Creepers hit the stage with Rob’s recognisable declaration: “Welcome to the Huxton Creeper gala spectacular” and straight into “Autumn Leaves”. Before Rob could inject more of his renowned stage banter it was straight into a rockin’ version of “Better Days” from the second album. Paul opined to the audience: “There will be no new songs” - welcome news for a cynical old bastard like me.
Rob and Paul lock in on guitars.
Soon to follow was the early single “My Cherie Amour” which was certainly given a most raw and tougher treatment than the original rendition. Paul’s Firebird was imposing as it rasped above Rob’s jangly Rickenbacker, or was he momentarily inspired as he stood in the exact same spot as the late great Ronald Frank Asheton during Dark Carnival’s Barwon Club show 20 years ago? He had nothing to lose as Klondike and the Iceman had also graced the now sacred ground.
It was the band’s first show in a very long time and the laid back, out-of-the-spotlight atmosphere allowed them to relax and grow in confidence as the crowd drank, danced and laughed their way along to their credible back catalogue. Rob proudly declared, and well he should: “We had three rehearsals and we peaked after the first one”.
Matthew’s turn at the mic saw the old crowd fave “Cherry, Cherry” and their most famous cover “Shake Some Action” got the room responding accordingly.
Not much encouragement was needed for the encore with Arch doing his best Clem Burke impersonation on “Union City Blues” with Rob ably hitting Debbie’s high notes. “Small Mercies” from their final EP allowed their impressive harmonies to shine. They finished with another live standard from their earlier days, “Ramble Tamble” - this was Rob’s last crack at improvised lyrics parodying Jim Morrison and his favourite lines from Psycho. The thespian will never be denied.
The mix was great and the sound raw. The Creepers hadn’t lost any of their live energy and certainly reminded us of their relevance that some of the earlier recordings couldn’t.
By the time you read this their tour may have ended, you may have been lucky enough to see them but if you didn’t, then get the CD. It’s pure and simple, fun rock ‘n’ roll. I reckon they might play again because they seemed to have too much fun.
That's Arch Law on the kit.
Rob Craw and his Rick.