Sunday, May 17, 2015

Show Time!

DICKIES - RUST - NOWHERE - King’s Arms, Auckland, New Zealand - 26 April 2015 
I would have thought that this was quite a scoop and a sure-fire hit. Legendary LA Punks, THE DICKIES first ever visit to New Zealand, hitting all the major cities - how the fuck could it go wrong? Oddly, New Zealand decided not to attend and the band was greeted with relatively small audiences. May be it’s because the band doesn’t have any new product, and hasn’t had any for some time or may be it’s just a certain NZ apathy. Either way, those who failed to go missed a veritable Punk legend - and a legend that can still cut it. What's more - this wasn't some kinda corporate money-gathering exercise - this was promoted by the stellar Punk Rock Road Trips gang here in NZ - DIY grass-roots stuff that delivers the goods for the love of music and not the fast $$.
First up however was a newish NZ band, NOWHERE. The name may be new, but the trio of faces are familiar as the band includes ex- (and current) members of RITALIN, PCP EAGLES and FREDDY FUDD PUCKER. Have to say, I didn’t pick out any song titles bar ‘Disease’ but the band burned with the kind of intensity LEATHERFACE could muster live around ‘Mush’/’Minx’ era. The whole set left me a bit speechless, particularly one intense instrumental breakdown that highlighted Stuart’s drumming and would not have sounded out of place in a TRAGEDY set. Was good to see the guitarist use a capo on a
couple of songs too which kept the sound fresh and distinctive. There are several great bands in New Zealand right now, but, on the strength this gig, NOWHERE might just about be the best of the bunch.
Australian bootboys RUST was up next. The band seemed an odd choice to support the DICKIES, but one that several members of the crowd seemed to appreciate (especially if they had no hair and braces [not on their teeth]). While they were certainly impressive and tight at what they did, the whole Skinhead/Oi! thing isn’t my thing. That said, they rocked pretty hard and in your face, fusing a brutish ROSE TATTOO Rock ‘n’ Roll blast with a LOWER CLASS BRATS take on Punk. Had they gone on before NOWHERE, they may have had a greater impact on me, but following NOWHERE they just failed to hold the attention and sounded too pedestrian.
That left the DICKIES to do their thang. With a back catalogue filled with classics the chances of the band disappointing were virtually zero. Opening with ‘Rosemary’, the band took a few tracks to find their feet. Along with founding members, Stan Lee and Leonard Phillips, were three new faces (to me at least) including a very natty drummer who played the whole gig in a shirt and dickie-bow tie! Last time I saw the band was 12 years ago (at least!) in Brighton, UK and it’s good to see that Leonard is still as theatrical as ever, incorporating the the usual talking penis during ‘If Stuart Could Talk’, the ape mask during ‘You Drive Me Ape’ and even a white towel used as a cape during ‘Gigantor’. He also frequently knocked Stan Lee’s hat off but a roadie (may be personal assistant?) was on hand to quickly replace said Pork Pie Hat.
The set did contain a few surprises; I don’t recall hearing ‘Wagon Train’ live before nor ‘The Saga Of Jim Bowie’. I could have done without the waste-of-time ‘Communication Breakdown’ cover in the encore (ditto ‘Paranoid’ too) considering the likes of ‘My Pop The Cop’, ‘Eve Of Destruction’, ‘Cross Eyed Tammy’, ‘Pretty Please Me’ and ‘(Stuck In A Pagoda With) Tricia Toyota’ were omitted.
The set was, as per most DICKIES gigs, littered with Leonard witticisms. This time we heard him state that, despite rumours, the DICKIES is NOT a Hardcore band. Also, that the thing we knew as the Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle did not originate in New York in the mid-late 70s, nor was it in London and those dastardly SEX PISTOLS boys. It was, in fact, The Monkees!!

It would be easy to think that Leonard, Stan and co are past their best - and that could well be true. But as a live experience, the band still makes for a great night’s entertainment and those who decided to stay home and watch New Zealand Does Have Talent... Well... Hang your head in shame.