Live Review: The Celibate Rifles, Dr Bombay, The 52 Pickups

28 April 2015 | 10:55 am | Kathy Pollock

Even with 30 years of live music experience, The Celibate Rifles perform "with as much rock’n’roll conviction as any new band out there."

The 52 Pickups warm up the room with a sound cleaved from classic rock. The band are stylish in outfits that wouldn’t be out of place at a rockabilly festival. Murray Johnstone sings confidently and plays guitar along with Damien Sanewski, while Kylie Lovejoy provides a steady, thumping bass line. Drummer Mike Squire also doubles as a trumpeter, adding a unique touch. The set is loud, fun rock’n’roll.

Dr Bombay are classic pub rock. They’re noisy, pounding and energetic. Gary Slater berates the crowd with a call of “stand at the front, motherfuckers,” but it’s said in jest and the beer-swigging crowd doesn’t seem to mind. They’re the perfect lead-in to the night’s headliners, Aussie punk rock legends The Celibate Rifles.

The Rifles have played around Australia extensively since 1979, but from the excited reaction of the audience, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s been years. Having played a stripped-back set the night before, punters are eagerly anticipating a balls-to-the-wall electric set. They’re not let down. The band steams through their massive discography, playing hits from as early as debut album, 1983’s Sideroxylon. The audience sings enthusiastically along with singer Damien Lovelock, roaring along to sardonic favourite, Wonderful Life.

Lovelock puts on a great show, pantomiming surfing movements, signing a couple of ardent fans’ Rifles LPs midset and chatting with the crowd. “I couldn’t sleep the other night so I turned on the telly and saw a video called Snakehips,” he tells us at one point. “It’s a couple of Japanese, or Chinese women, dancing. It’s mesmerising.” He revisits this sentiment later on. “Look up Snakehips. Trust me.” (This scribe did. It’s pretty darned catchy.)

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There are a couple of slower songs that don’t suit the mood quite as much, but do give the crowd a breather. Some of the audience members are relentless in their song requests and Lovelock has to tell them to be patient. With a backlog of songs as big as theirs, they can’t play everybody’s favourites. By the end of the encore though, it seems that everybody is more than happy; a procession of flushed, sweaty, thirsty fans stagger into the street. The Rifles put on another solid, energetic show with as much rock’n’roll conviction as any new band out there.