Wednesday, March 09, 2005

add it up

I saw the Violent Femmes tonight. Forgot my camera though so you'll have to take my word for it. Wish I'd had it: the gig was at the Enmore Theatre in Newtown, a cool old venue, and there were a number of times I wish I'd been able to capture the scene.

I've been a Femmes fan for about 20 years now and this is the third time I've seen them. It was amusing seeing the range of ages there, from teens to fortysomethings. Great to see they're still striking a chord with teens of today with their angsty death/drugs/sex orientated lyrics. The crowd was less active than the previous one I'd seen - that was 10 years ago and at a University Orientation so it's not surprising. But they were still extremely vocal and plenty of arm waving. And some guy, who must have been VF's No#1 Australian fan, right in front of us absolutely going off his nut - screaming, shouting & dancing like a wildman. That was so great to see - he must have been 19 or 20, and would have only just been born when the band formed. He had even bought several t-shirts which he gave to some of the people around him towards the end of the night.

While they've not really put out anything new that can hold a candle to their seminal 80's work they really know how to put on a performance. This time the original drummer (Victor DeLorenzo) was back with the band and centre-stage throughout playing his trademark snare, cymbal & tom standing up (when he wasn't running around the stage or generally acting the madman). He was definitely the liveliest of the three and did the most interacting with the crowd. He also did a big drum solo (when do you ever see that these days?!) which was hilarious as well as excellently done.

By contrast Gordon Gano (guitar & vocals - I shouldn't have to tell anyone this stuff really!) kept himself out of the spotlight almost entirely - except for a couple of guitar solo bits. His voice definitely hasn't changed with age, still the familiar nasal whiney twang. Great to hear *g*

Brian Ritchie on bass had the most extensive collection of instruments of any bass-player I've ever seen. He played 5 different kinds of bass throughout the night from a large acoustic-electric bass guitar, to a fully electric upright bass, an electric bass guitar, a 2 string slide bass, and a bizarre single string upright contraption that honestly looked like a mop handle with a wire attached. All of them sounded brilliant.

The best bits for me (since I wasn't into dancing tonight) were the extended jazz-like jam-sessions they had with some other musicians - a couple of sax players, banjo, slide-whistle, trumpet, and accordion. I loved their rendition of 'I Held Her in My Arms', and 'Gimme The Car' was brilliantly realised despite (or perhaps because of?) them all being parents now. The jazzy, quirky noodling that is part of 'Black Girls' was also particularly cool. They ended the set with a lengthy 'Kiss Off' which had them going crazy and getting the crowd going wild too.

All-in-all a superb gig. If you get a chance to catch these guys you won't regret it.

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