Live Review: Died Pretty, Radio Birdman, Mick Medew & The Mesmerisers

26 June 2017 | 8:02 pm | Steve Bell

"...The rock'n'roll tradition - and this wonderful, timeless music - is bound to outlive us all, and that can only be a good thing."

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Former Screaming Tribesman frontman Mick Medew - now out front of his current band The Mesmerisers - kicks off proceedings tonight in perfect fashion, indeed with this tour being an unabashed celebration of old school Aussie rock'n'roll it's hard to think of a more appropriate Brisbane support.

He happily dips into his old band's catalogue to pull out gems like Igloo and Date With A Vampyre - the songs still taut and lean and vital - as well as introducing some newer originals like No More Monkeys. He's clearly having a blast strutting his stuff in front of the massive, almost full room, and throws in some entirely appropriate covers - The Undertones' Teenage Kicks, the Flamin' Groovies' Shake Some Action and a rollicking version of T-Rex classic 20th Century Boy to close - which help set the mood perfectly for the juggernaut to come.

Sydney legends Radio Birdman have scored the middle slot tonight - the two main bands alternating the headlining honours as they wind around the country - and as they take their place before the massive banner of their iconic logo (which is resplendent behind them) they too opt to open with a cover, shredding out the blistering version of the 13th Floor Elevators' You're Gonna Miss Me that they've been recasting in their own image since the '70s. They're in incendiary form from the outset, mainstay Deniz Tek and his current guitar counterpart Dave Kettley in particularly ferocious form with their guitar lines thick and sinuous and snaking through the air, with frontman Rob Younger contorting lithely before them as he belts out the missives.

They own a seemingly endless stream of classic tracks - blurring through bangers like Do The Pop, Non-Stop Girls, Crying Sun, Smith & Wesson Blues and Alone In The Endzone - augmented by some more recent fare such as We've Come So Far (To Be Here Today) and Zeno Beach, which also hold up perfectly in this setting. There's an abundance of love in the room emanating from the predominantly older throng, who dance and sing with abandon as these timeless songs transport them back to long-gone times. Tunes like More Fun!, Descent Into The Maelstrom, I-94, Hand Of Law and What Gives? are delivered with ferocious intensity - the keyboards of Phillip "Pip" Hoyle giving depth and nuance to the aural assault - the excitement building to fever pitch as they finish with the classic New Race, which has the entire floor before them fist-pumping and belting out the "yeah hup" refrain in magnificent unison.

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Usually encores are the sole domain of the night's closer but Birdman still have some aces up their sleeve and the crowd bays for their return, the chuffed looking band - who've hardly said a word all evening, letting their powerful music speak for them - happily comply by belting out their staple Aloha Steve & Danno and a raucous rendition of Magazine's Shot By Both Sides to complete a killer set.

It's doubtful that any band would enjoy following that performance, but '80s Oz rock icons Died Pretty rise to the challenge, the entirely black-clad outfit digging deep into their catalogue for early tune Just Skin to open proceedings. They're immediately more moody and atmospheric than their predecessors, Ron Peno moving fluidly with the music as he croons into the void while his long-term partner-in-crime Brett Myers' guitar lines soar into the stratosphere.

Much of the ensuing set is gleaned from their classic 1991 album Doughboy Hollow - including the triumphant triumvirate of Sweetheart, DC and Godbless - but they tackle tunes from across their entire canon, earlier numbers like Life To Go (Landsakes) and Blue Sky Day nestling comfortably alongside later-era material like Stops 'N' Starts and Radio. They finish their main set with a powerful reading of '87 single Winterland and then they too are shouted back for an encore by the ravenous crowd, completing this wonderful stroll down memory lane with another early cut in the form of the fittingly fraught Desperate Hours.

Three great acts from yesteryear revelling in the chance to revisit their halcyon days, joined in the quest by hundreds of happy punters: the rock'n'roll tradition - and this wonderful, timeless music - is bound to outlive us all, and that can only be a good thing.