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Live Review: Unwritten Law

13 December 2016 | 2:57 pm | Madison Thomas

"Elva isn't an album; it's a moment in time."

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Fronted by perennial party boy and keeper of one of the most distinctive vocals in punk, Scott Russo, Unwritten Law tour Australia so thoroughly and so frequently that they have more than earned their honorary Aussie badges. This time around, UL are celebrating the (almost) 15th anniversary of Elva by playing it from start to finish. To this writer at least, Elva isn't an album; it's a moment in time. It's the smell of Lynx Africa wafting out from the Year Ten boys' locker bay, it's the sound of wheels on a rail on a hot afternoon and it's waiting by the phone for your crush to call you.

Inside Corner Hotel's teeming band room, it's impossible to get a good vantage point on the outer fringes of the room so it's straight into the belly of the beast. Thankfully, screens on either side of the stage ensure that those towards the back can catch more than a glimpse.

The tatty red curtains part, but to the disappointment of the crowd, our wait is elongated for a further ten minutes as the band fail to emerge. "Sing a fucking song, motherfucker!" yells one unhappy camper close by. Blessedly, Russo and co are worth the wait from almost the first note.

Mean Girl is ballsy and sneering, a tune that kicks off a frothing moshpit. "This song was written in Australia with Phil Jamieson, it's about doing a lot of drugs," laughs Russo as he introduces Up All Night, which sounds as anthemic now as it ever has with Wade Youman's drumming both relentless and splendidly spine jangling.

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By How You Feel there is not a still body in the house, its summery sting bringing on a big singalong. Seein' Red has forever and always will be a personal favourite, and it sounds just as heartbreakingly powerful live. Unfortunately, at this point the next couple of songs are sacrificed to the line for the ladies' bathroom. Actress, Model..., however, still sounds pretty good from the queue.

Later, Rest Of My Life is a sweet and wistful kick in the feelings. As they conclude Elva in all its sweaty, angsty glory, the band return to the stage to play a bonus round of fan favourites. There appears to be some sort of technical difficulty as they replace the promised Teenage Suicide with alt-love song Cailin. Numerous couples sing into each other's mouths and stare all starry-eyed while crooning along; it would be gross if it weren't such a good tune.

Issues resolved, Teenage Suicide riles up one of the loudest reactions of the night, rivalled again by Lonesome. Sadly, some sort of melee interrupts the song at the front of stage (later said to be a guy punching a female punter). "You gotta go, motherfucker," says Russo as security turf the man out into the night and the crowd does their best to drown him in beer on his way out. Ever the professionals, the band finish the song without a hitch. She Says beautifully runs the gauntlet from simmering anger to furious rage, helped along by the backing vocals of guitarist Chris Lewis and bassist Jonny Grill. They close with a ball-tearing cover of Grinspoon's More Than You Are. "Thank you for spending so much of your lives with our lives," says Russo, and the band's status of forever and always being the guys you want to sit in the backyard and polish off a slab with remains unchanged.