Live Review: The Beasts + The Johnnys, ANU, Canberra 7 March 2019

20190307_223249I arrive at the ‘new’ ANU venue in time to catch the last few numbers by Sydney’s reformed cowpunk stalwarts The Johnnys. Graham Hood stalks the stage and lays down his distinctive bass groove while Slim Doherty’s appealing guitar twangs and resonates throughout the room. With Billy Pommer keeping time behind the kit, there are few 3-pieces who can musically match the Johnnys so if you are planning on taking in The Beasts on their current national tour, be sure to arrive early and check out the Johnnys. There’s gonna be a showdown ? You bet. At 10.15 pm the Beasts take the stage and for the next 90 minutes remind the small, but enthusiastic Canberra crowd why they are one of the best live bands in the world – still. With a set comprising material pulled largely from their amazing new, and arguably best album, ‘Still Here’, the Beasts deliver in no uncertain terms. I counted seven tunes off the new record, and all sound incredible. It’s if heavy duty rock n roll you wanted, you got the punishing ‘On My Back’, ‘Drunk On A Train’, and ‘Chase The Dragon’. There are also earnest performances of ‘What The Hell Was I Thinking’, and ‘At The Hospital’, both delivered as tributes to Brian Hooper and Spencer P Jones respectively. Tex Perkin’s ability to control his vocal is almost second to none. He is a master of his instrument, as demonstrated by his vocal fade out on ‘At The Hospital’. Superb. Perkins is a multi-faceted vocalist and is far from one dimensional. His imposing stage presence is compelling to watch, and I’ve seen few other frontmen command a stage like he can. Punters often forget that he is a ‘performer’, who is integral to the delivery of the song. At one point he rebukes the punters in the front row for having their phones half a metre from his face. I agree totally. I am so tired of people videoing gigs on their phone, it is beyond disrespectful to the artist. Enough already. The fools in the front row suitably humiliated, Tex takes a few minutes to recompose himself before the band find top gear again on covers of Zappa’s ‘The Torture Never Stops’ and Warren Zevon’s ‘My Shit’s Fucked Up’, both of which appear on the new album. A surprising rendition of Kim Salmon’s ‘Drop Out’ is a highpoint, before encores of ‘Your Honour’ and ‘Execution Day’ bring proceedings to a close. Unlike many of their contemporaries, the Beasts are not trading off on their old material. Their new album ‘Still Here’ is a reminder to all and sundry, that in 2019 the Beasts are still a force to be reckoned with.

If you haven’t already done so, tune in to episode 107 of The Australian Rock Show, where guitarist Charlie Owen joins us to talk through the songs on the hard hitting new album for The Beasts ‘Still Here’, what fans can expect on the Australian tour, his time with the Divinyls and much more. Dig it! Listen here

 

 

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