LIVE REVIEW: The Clean @ Sydney Festival (19/01/15)

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The Clean are one of those bands that possesses a mythical aura about them. Across multiple decades they’ve remained an underground act yet they’re constantly being touted as an influence on a multitude of bands as each indie rock generation emerges. Their own influences – Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Byrds, Can, 70s punk and post-punk – formed their sound and in the process posited them as worthy heirs at the junction of pop, rock and the avant garde.

5:15pm in a vaudevillian tent in the middle of a city park is a strange way to experience The Clean and it certainly took a handful of songs for a vibe and a communal rock n roll atmosphere to form. Once it did the trio of David and Hamish Kilgour and Robert Scott seemed to find their groove with some glorious and beatific moments.

It wasn’t all early hits for the 50 year olds, they dipped into their 2009 album Mister Pop for the catchy brilliance of ‘In The Dreamlife You Need A Rubber Soul’ and 1990’s Vehicle gave us ‘Drawing To A Whole’ but it was their best known songs that elicited the greatest response. The hypnotic and mesmerising psych gem ‘Point That Thing Somewhere Else, ‘Fish, ‘Anything Can Happen’ ‘Too Much Violence’, ‘Getting Older’, ‘Billy Two’ and the single encore of Tally Ho (devoid of its descending organ riff) all showed what a strong and diverse body of the work the group have produced across only a handful of albums.

There was stage banter aplenty with references to drugs, prime ministers, Palmerston North and roses. They seemed to be having fun playing together, Scott’s bass and Hamish Kilgour’s urgent drumming digging into menacing grooves beneath David Kilgour’s jangling pop strum and Crazy Horse-styled wig-outs. As tight as they often were every song either ground to a halt or unceremoniously yet fittingly collapsed in itself. A sign that they never sacrificed feel and ramshackle appeal for polish and soulless professionalism. The Clean are still The Clean. In their own words – Trapped In Amber.

Chris Familton

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