ROKY ERICKSON
The Factory Theatre, Marrickville, Australia
Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Words and pictures by THE BARMAN

Share If you believed all of "the legend" dished up in the mainstream media, the man billed to take the stage this warmish Sydney Wednesday night was a husk of his former self, a shambling victim of shock treatment and 400 acid
trips whose connection with terrestrial reality was as tenuous as the link between a politician and truth. There have been times when all of the above was correct. Not now.

Roky Erickson was magnificent. His band was good. His set selection (skewed towards his post 13th Floor Elevator
s stuff - but that's not a negative) was near perfect.

So Roky had a roadie who passed him his guitar. The man is 64-years-old. Musicians younger than him have guitar roadies. Roky didn't indulge in between songs banter and he had a wistful look on his face that might suggest indicated the lights were on but no-one was home. That's unfair. Roky's singing was on the money (he didn't need a teleprompter like Lou Reed) and his range is only slightly diminished by ageing. His guitar playing was good, running from simple
barre chords to compact soloing. What's more, Roky was leading the band through the changes.

Roky has undeniable presence. It's partly garnered through what he's been through but most importantly for what he's done. That remarkable voice has held up amazingly well.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Opening band was The Treatment, one of whose members was the familiar form of You Am I's drummer Rusty Hopkins. I missed most of their set and can't vouch for what they were like. What I did catch sounded OK.

Next up was Jeger Erickson, son of the one and only and leader of his and their band. Jeger has a fair set of pipes and his band were competent rock pop. There was an undercurrent of impatience in the crowd and I was swept along as much as anyone.

Fostering your son's musical progress is tempting for a father and pre-tour chatter on the Internet was that Roky had shafted his regular young band in favour of blood being thicker than water. The Jeger Erickson band (plus a local ring-in guitarist) did more than OK as a backing act. They played the songs thoughtfully and faithfully. There was no question of anyone upstaging the main man. Once Roky came on, Jeger retreated to the back of the stage for most of the set and added backing vocals.

Roky entered to "Bo Diddley"and upped the ante by a quantum factor after that. It became A Cold Night For Alligators, we Stood For the Fire Demon and as one we asked Lucifer not to Shake us. The full set list is elsewhere in another review. Let's just say that despite The Factory Theatre's criminal drink prices, this was The Real Stuff, served in a tall glass with a funny stick to mix it with.

Jeger Erickson probably cops more than most frontmen, given his bloodlines. What he isn't used to is a thrown object aimed directly at his noggin. Pity that whatever dickhead tossed the missile wasn't the one young Jeger dived off the stage and started ripping into. His eyesight was evidently as bad as the assailant's aim.

Jeger wasn't the only one to answer a call to arms. The Roky Erickson Band had to repel the odd imbecile stage diver. Just when you thought it was safe to return to centre mic…Sydney didn't really fly its freak flag this night - the crowd numbers were piss poor - but some freaks came out to fly, regardless.

It was great but the set was finished too soon. The encore was as essential as predictable. The rhythms dragged in "You're Gonna Miss Me" but I'm more used to Radio Birdman's epic set closer (Deniz Tek being among the luminaries present tonight.) Still, I ain't complaining. I Walked With a Zombie this night.

 

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