• Mark Fraser

Hoodoo Gurus & Sunnyboys -Enmore Theatre April 2012

On Sunday my peeps and I got sucked into a time warp. We were spat out on  Enmore Road on the Enmore/Newtown border. It was 1981 again. 

Two of my favourite bands in the whole world were on the bill for this unique music festival Dig it up! (The Hoodoo Gurus Invitational).

The Sunnyboys haven't played together (the original lineup) for over 20 years. Un-friggin'-believable how time flies when you're living....

The rumour went around months ago that former lead singer, boy genius Jeremy Oxley, had emerged from a long battle with mental illness, found true love and felt like singing again. (insert small 'wow' here). I'm trying not to cry as I write this because yesterday's re-union of this seminal (and I don't use that word lightly) band was inspiring.

The original lineup played - Jeremy Oxley (guitar and vocals) and his brother Peter (bass and vocals), Richard Burgman (guitar) and Bil Bilson (drums). They performed under the pseudonym Kids in Dust but word had got around and fans turned up in their droves to see the band take to the stage at 3.30pm, after The Fleshtones.

I missed The Hard ons and The Fleshtones (bummer - I heard The Fleshtones were brilliant) but got close to the stage for the Sunnyboys. What a revelation. Apparently, the band first rehearsed as a unit during their soundcheck - this is after a good 20 years haitus! THEY SOUNDED THE SAME AS THEY DID IN 1981.

It was just like 'back in the day' at The Sydney Trade Union Club, Strawberry Hills Hotel, Paddington Green, and all the other small venues around Sydney that had live music every weekend.

What did they play? Alone with you, Tunnel of love, Let you go, I'm shakin', Show me some discipline, Liar, Happy Man, Trouble in my brain... There were others but I'm still in a post-Sunnyboys haze (excuse for bad memory).

Stayed for most of Deniz Tek and Rob Younger, who pulled out all the Radio Birdman classics. My ears were sore so I retreated to the back for a while. 

Lots of other acts were on the menu, including comedy acts at smaller venues up and down the street. We walked up to the Green Room, one of Sydney's groovy bars, to see Damien Lovelock of Celibate Rifles fame spinning yarns about his youth in the '60s and '70s.

Lovelock has had a wild ride and is one of those people who, I'm sure, wakes up every day and praises those almighty powers that stepped in and dragged him back from the brink by the scruff of his neck. His stories are hilarious in the re-telling but they come (especially the one about the steroid pumped greyhounds at Gosford) from a darker reality.

I went back to The Enmore Theatre to catch Redd Kross. WOWEE. I know several people from the United States read my blog - if you ever get the chance, you must see REDD KROSS. I can only describe them as a mesh of The Ramones, The Buzzcocks and The Hives.   

They play explosive powerpop tunes with a razor-sharp punk texture. I loved them.

Afterwards our group re-grouped and some of us went up the road for dinner to The Sultan's Table - recommended for delicious Turkish cuisine.

Because we were busy eating (something we never thought to do in 1981 when beer and bourbon and coke were the staple diet) we missed Japanese all-girl act at Notes Live. I heard they were pretty ordinary. 

Back at The Enmore it was time for The Sonics. These guys are old (no disrespect intended; they played garage rock in 1963) but they looked fine from a distance! In the flyer for the event, The Sonics are described as "the godfathers of this whole damn mess".

You don't often see a saxophone player in a rock band but there's one in The Sonics and he ripped it up. I enjoyed their set - their songs, which basically flip from blues inspired to unadulterated rock 'n' roll, have been covered by bands such as The Cramps, The Fall and The Black Keys.

Hoodoo Gurus were the final act. What can I say? I used to follow this band around slavishly whenever they played in Sydney.

Last night they were louder and faster - but maybe it was always like that. Super post-punk rock buzzing with clever lyrics, punchy riffs and memorable sing-along choruses. It was a shame that the sound was often muddy because the sound technician had ramped up all the instruments.

Dave Faulkner was as exuberant as ever and where there used to be long hair it's now bowling-ball smooth. But that's OK. He still wore paisley, broke a guitar string first up and belted out his songs like a maniac.

I'm not one for nostalgia but this was pure rose-coloured glasses fun. The old hits were churned out including Dig it up, Leilani, Tojo, My girl, Arthur, Bittersweet, I want you back, I was a kamikaze pilot, Let's all turn on, Like wow wipeout and Zanzibar.

By the end, the room was hot and sweaty - and the bloke in front of Little Sister kept on farting (it's an age thing). Afterwards I felt the pain as I landed with a thud in 2012.

Shayne Collier - redbackrock.com

Below is the link to The Sunnyboys Fan Club. Sunday's gig was a one-off - Richard Burgman flew back to Canada the day after and the rest of the band members went their own way. The fan club has video from a documentary that is being made to celebrate the Dig it up! event. Go to:http://www.facebook.com/SunnyboysFanClub

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