Live Review: Sons Of Lee Marvin, The Yard Apes

18 September 2012 | 3:30 pm | Esther Rivers

The Yard Apes sit somewhere between Link Wray and The Butthole Surfers and they quickly let the handbrake off on their punkabilly truck, letting it gather speed and roll dangerously through their set. Brett Dunbar belts his orange Gretsch while his brother Gregg (excitable and occasionally nude) can't wipe the smile off his face. This is a mean trio and they ready the crowd for the riot that's to follow.

Sons Of Lee Marvin are fucking mental. In the best possible way. The Retreat is packed largely with rockers awaiting the debut of album number three. Disguised in a wrestling mask, the MC steps onto the stage and lets loose a roaring introduction, instilling a niggling feeling that shit is about to kick off. The band fly hot and heavy into the first few tracks and the energy is palpable as the crowd respond, particularly one crazy dancer who is flinging his sweat on anybody coming within a five-metre radius.

“We'd like to invite the best looking guy on this stage tonight to play a few songs,” says guitarist Stu Manchu. It's a debatable comment since guitarist Corin Spencer looks pretty dapper in his black ensemble. Mandolin player Lee French steps up to assist with a couple of the album's low-key country tunes. The mood shifts, but energy levels rise once more as tracks Flesh Is The Future and Already Got The Rock make us take heed. The crowd are moving, whistling, cheering and grooving and the vibe rebounds as the performance builds with each new song. We move from the wild showmanship of frontman Mick Beard toward the back line, where the stellar combination of the band's drumming duo are getting looser than cheese in a Hot Pocket. Drummer Pugs Lyngcoln is bending forward and screaming his backing vocals into the mic as he pounds away, and something about (second drummer) Gavin Smith's face spells mischief.

Their last song, a cover of Dead Moon's Dead Moon Night, makes all hell break loose. Beard is face first with his guitar on the floor, Manchu runs wild with his guitar in the air and Spencer holds fort up the front as a cymbal suddenly flies through the air. Beard catches it (we think with his forehead) and bashes at it with the neck of his bass. The drums are in pieces, Smith launching his snare over the stage just as Lyngcoln – like an age-old barbarian – head-butts the tom drum and then punches at it repeatedly, not succeeding in breaking the drum yet successfully breaking his own hand. We haven't seen carnage like this since Rockin' Rocky Rockwell's mock Elvis impersonation on The Lawrence Welk Show.

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Blown minds, smashed instruments and broken bones? Now that's rock'n'roll.