The openers this evening are Rinehearts, Benny, Mitch and Ross (Gina’s boys from Perth, WA supplementing their “meagre” income?) making their Adelaide debut. They come across like a garage punk trio Kinks, Benny on guitar head-bobbing like Tim Rogers and Mitch with the lowest slung bass I have seen in a while. Their quick-fire succession of songs shows a punk ethos in perhaps trying to get the songs over with as soon as possible which means that they don’t always garner the applause they deserve. Among these is the bass heavy Can’t Do Nothing sounding reminiscent of the Cure’s Boys Don’t Cry and a Beatles-esque You Don’t Have To Lie while One Thing One Time acknowledges a sound and debt to Even who they have previously supported. When I see them the following night at the Grace Emily Hotel during a moment of technical difficulty, after playing a snippet of Cream’s Sunshine Of Your Love, Benny is encouraged to continue but responds, “I know I’m Ginger but I’m not Ginger Baker”.
Fronted (although the stage set up would go against that description) by the Dandy Warhols’ Brent DeBoer and tonight including Dave Mudie on drums (from Courtney Barnett’s band), Immigrant Union is another proposition altogether, playing a set of pleasant catchy melodies overladen with fuzz guitar histrionics that invited in the patchy audience. Although they commence with an alt country styled song that devolved into an exercise in psych drone meditation, by their third song they were incorporating a reverbed surf-twang ala Calexico and included guitar riff vocal harmonising.
Not Too Smart was a brief Eddie Cochran style proto-rocker while single Watch My Mouth consisted of over heavy Big Muff style fuzz guitar in an otherwise friendly rocker that enticed a couple to utilise the dwindling void in front of the stage for their dancing. To say that Immigrant Union were all over the place would be a positive affirmation in describing their set. Penultimate song Mokoan is a one you can get lost in, starting with a moody modal jazz feel and Ballroom Blitz drums before settling into becoming a country-paced ballad with the welcome inclusion of harmonica. When they play almost the same set the next night at the Grace Emily Hotel, their final song ends in an all-in, heads down drone freak-out that might have been longer than the song that it was derived from.
In his opening comments, Even’s Ash Naylor declares poetically, “It’s great to be back at Jive. Rock and roll is alive”, and starts an out of chronology set of “greatest hits” broken up by his occasional “liner note” commentary to celebrate twenty five years with Wally Kempton on bass and Matt Cotter on drums.
After the first couple of songs, Stop And Go Man and Stupid Dream, Ash’s attempted humorous preamble for Black Umbrella about a brush with everyday fame doesn’t quite hit the mark and elicit the expected audience response he would have hoped for (maybe stand up comedy is not for him but he does have his sublime song writing to fall back upon). His in-between song banter leads to him being heckled by band mate Wally which has Ash jokingly respond, “the talking book is on sale as the merch desk” prior to the song that made it happen for them, 24 Hour Cynic.
Wally’s upfront backing vocals reveal an underused talent and Coming Back to Earth has him performing an infectious repetitive bass line. There is an effective mid-song pause although not entirely for effect but for a momentary re-tune prior to Ash’s wah wah guitar solo. This is followed by Uncommonwealth, “a rarely played song” that is a minor classic. In fact, almost all the songs are classics and it is not as though much time would have been spent selecting songs to include on the set list as with slight exceptions, you could pick any song at random from their back catalogue and enjoy it as much as another. Prior to this point, Jive’s mirror ball had been used to good effect and then during Electric Light whoever was doing the lights must have felt invited by the song’s title to throw in as many effects as they could during the span of that song.
Halfway through the set, the timing could not have been better for a touching but humorous moment of audience interaction and camaraderie preceding Out Of The Woods when the offer of a free beer from the band is turned down by an unwell member of the audience who had shouted out praise for the trio.
The laidback Shining Star is in stark contrast to the guitar acrobatics and extended Hendrix-esque workout of Which Way To Run that had preceded it and Ash encourages audience vocal participation. Afterwards, a call of “Where’s the cello” has Ash responding, “You were the cello”, and reveals that it is the first time there has been a sing along during this song. There is this and other moments during the set where there does not appear to be any psychological barrier between the band and the audience and we are all friends here tonight.
Return To Stardust is introduced as “a nine minute feedback odyssey” amongst further contextual set-up and it is exactly the psych epic that was described with Even going all Pink Floyd (think Us and Them). After the dynamic immediacy of Life Gets In The Way the trio crack open a tinny to celebrate their quarter century before dedicating new single Mark The Day to Red Kross (or is it the Red Cross? I’m not sure that it is clear to the audience).
Ash introduces I Have Nothing by paraphrasing the lyrics that seem to be an encoded message to their audience: “we have nothing without your loving”. The band exit the stage to return with Wally requesting the DJ to play Safety Dance when the venue transforms into the nightclub to follow. The two song encore, starting with Rainbows ends in another sing along to Don’t Wait, leaving the audience unfortunately desperately wanting more as the trio safety-dance off stage.
With this finish, I considered that Even were out of time in the 90s and still are now, and to conclude, I will appropriate a lyric along those lines from Superglue played early in the set: “something tells me I’ll find you there” but where exactly that is, I don’t know and I don’t think it really matters.
Live Review by Jason Leigh