LIVE REVIEW: The Smiths Tribute @ Factory Theatre (24/09/16)

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The Salford Lads feat. Christine Jane

Covering another artist can be either be an exercise in slavish re-creation of their music, an attempt to replicate it as accurately as possible, or an insightful reinterpretation of their songs, adding a new shade, a new flavour to the music. This night was a tribute to The Smiths, in honour of the 30th anniversary of the band’s album The Queen Is Dead and we got both those approaches with differing results.

img_7019Early on Panic Syndrome added a goth-rock sense of drama with ‘Shoplifters of the World Unite’ being a standout in their set. It highlighted the scope of The Smiths catalogue from rockist anthems such as this, right through to the introspective and moodier moments that would follow. Another band that played it pretty close to the chest but with a real sense of energy and enthusiasm were Mr Blonde. They perhaps best nailed the celebratory aspect of the night.

JMS Harrison and Cabin Inn took the atmospheric approach with an extended keyboard intro of ‘Oscillate Wildly’ and Harrison nailing the lonesome melancholy of ‘Asleep’, one of the highlights of the evening. Sonically they worked interesting textures into the songs, putting their own stamp on the music.

The Maladies tackled one of The Smiths’ most famous songs in ‘This Charming Man’ with Dan Marando putting his devilish and theatrical take on the song, adding intensity and tension to it. That was ratcheted up a notch with ‘Sweet and Tender Hooligan’ before they introduced Lisa Caruso who transformed ‘I Know It’s Over’ into a beautiful and sultry Mazzy Star-styled torch-song , dialling into the core of Morrissey’s swooning and tragic romanticism.

It was up to The Salford Lads (feat. members of Charlie Horse, Died Pretty and Panic Syndrome) who provided excellent backing for singers Christine Jane and The Church’s Steve Kilbey. Opening with instrumental ‘The Draize Train’ they proved immediately that they had a handle on the taut rock and groove-based elements of The Smiths’ sound. Jane showed she knows how to work an audience, urging participation and bridging the gap between stage and audience, something that most other acts didn’t really do. Vocally she was a bit hit and miss, enthusiasm trumping her service to the songs as she sang ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ and ‘Boy With A Thorn In His Side’.

img_7018From then on the night took a turn into the weird and awkward world of Steve Kilbey and his mix of interpretive dance, yoga poses and stage messiah gesturing. It was as if he was in a rush to get it all out, missing lines, singing wrong lyrics, sacrificing singing for unbridled emotive vocal outpourings. It felt like a pending train-wreck and it was only the well-oiled band that kept their set on the tracks. ‘The Queen Is Dead’, b-side ‘Jeane’ and ‘How Soon Is Now’ were given widescreen guitar heavy treatment yet Kilbey went for the grandiose when he needed restraint and spent far too much time on cardio vs audio. The audience visibly thinned during the closing set and were left with a single encore of, bizarrely, a cover of the only non-Smiths song for the night – Gloria.

In all there were some fine performances with only the end of night detracting from the overall success of the evening. Perhaps next time one house band with guest players and singers may have better suited the tribute format.

Chris Familton

NEWS: Glide/William Arthur tribute show

 

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Glide were one of Sydney’s best loved indie guitar bands of the 90’s, led by singer, guitarist and principal songwriter William Arthur. Sadly Arthur passed away 15 years ago leaving a big hole in the local music scene so it is no surprise that an impressive line-up of musicians are gathering at The Vanguard on August 22nd to pay tribute.

Artists performing include Knievel, Croons (former Glide members playing songs off Open Up And Croon), Last (Glide’s last line-up), Steve Kilbey, Peter Fenton (CROW), Jamie Hutchings, Sounds Like Sunset, Charlie Horse, Greg Atkinson (Big Heavy Stuff), J M S Harrison, Hope Springs, The Model School, Wifey and Bryan Estepa.

Buy Tickets Here

 

NEWS: Talk Talk tribute album and book due in May

UK label Fierce Panda are set to release a double album celebrating the work of UK band Talk Talk this May. The compilation will be comprised of covers by a huge list of artists such as King Creosote, Alan Wilder, Jason Lytle, Zero 7, Crispin Hunt, Linton Kwesi Johnson, White Belt Yellow Tag, Electric Soft Parade, Joan As Policewoman, White Lies, Goldheart Assembly and many, many more guests including Bon Iver and Arcade Fire.

The record will be accompanied by a book called Spirit Of Talk Talk which will include hand-written lyrics from Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis, along with 80 written contributions from people who’ve been influenced by the band over the years. Contributors include Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry, late Pink Floyd member Richard Wright, Weezer’s Patrick Wilson, Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater, Tom Fleming of Wild Beasts, Paul Hartnoll of Orbital, Karl Hyde of Underworld, former Depeche Mode member Alan Wilder, Elbow’s Guy Garvey, James Lavelle of UNKLE, former Grandaddy frontman Jason Lytle, and a whole bunch more.

NEWS: Tribute to Jay Reatard

Jay Reatard R.I.P. | photo by Chris Familton

Tragically we got the terrible news yesterday about the death of Jay Reatard who at the age of 29 had released 22 full length albums and  played more than 1000 shows. The last few years saw him sign to Matador and release the brilliant Matador Singles ’08 and last year’s Watch Me Fall that we rated as the 4th best album of 09.

From his music and the doco below he seemed to be an artist hell bent on cutting his own path in the world,  a person who had seen a lot of shit and who had an unswerving DIY work ethic. Whatever the circumstances of his death he should be remembered for his fantastic music.

I was due to interview him 5 months ago but it never happened due to ‘personal issues’ with Jay. I had so many questions to ask the guy, now it seems it will be the music that does the talking, just as he probably wanted it to.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

SYDNEY LANEWAY FESTIVAL 2009

Jay Reatard | photo by Chris Familton
Jay Reatard | photo by Chris Familton