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Live Review: The Living End, West Thebarton

5 November 2018 | 4:09 pm | Craig English

"One could swear the revolution is just around the corner given the passion with which the masses are chanting in 'Roll On' and 'Prisoner Of Society'."

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Self-described “seven-headed garage-rock hydra from Adelaide, SA” West Thebarton are the lucky troupe who have been honoured with the gargantuan task of generating the energy required for a certain beloved Melbourne trio to deliver a fervently anticipated show. Frontman "Reverend" Ray Dalfsen and his mighty cohort coat the Greco-Roman expanse of The Forum with savage riffs and neatly packaged transitions, a glimpse of the sonic marriage between The Hives and Cosmic Psychos. Stuck On You – thankfully not a cover of that whining garbage by Paul Norton – is a funny, irrepressibly catchy banger that doesn’t get ahead of itself, but does get several hundred bodies jumping. If this is what the renaissance of garage rock is going to look like, bring it on!

You are beautiful but you will die” perhaps wasn’t quite the welcome we’d expected from The Living End. Taken from their latest album Wunderbar, the rock legends curiously open with Wake Up The Vampires, and while sounding rather tame on the album, it’s gritty when played live and makes full use of Andy Strachan’s fierce drumming. The pace takes a sharp spike once again with Don’t Lose It and Chris Cheney demonstrates he’s still got the angsty vocal chops that have been a hallmark of this 20-year-strong institution of Australian rock.

Anecdotes about finding the perfect avocado and telling other shoppers at the supermarket to fuck off comically break up hits Loaded Gun, All Torn Down and other choice cuts from their seven-album back catalogue. Double bass wizard Scott Owen and Cheney take things down a notch to carefully teach the audience to harmonise in Wake Up, and the result is stunning choral unison befitting the acoustics of The Forum. And one could swear the revolution is just around the corner given the passion with which the masses are chanting in Roll On and Prisoner Of Society.

Tipsy slurring gets the better of Cheney in One Said To The Other but it certainly has no effect on his ability to annihilate the neck of his guitar as he crafts a stinging solo in Second Solution, while some fisticuff shenanigans put the security guards to work without dampening the mood too much for White Noise.

After a brief respite, Cheney makes his way back out to deliver the melancholic Amsterdam. Owen and Strachan join him moments later for The Room, but of course it’s Uncle Harry, that crowd favourite about pissing in the bath, that caps off a night of quintessentially Australiana rock.