The Governor Hindmarsh saw the much anticipated return of seminal ‘sub-pop’ pioneers, Radio Birdman on Saturday Night, and although the band has been through several lineup changes in recent years the current crop really hits the mark!
Founding members Rob Younger (Vocals), Deniz Tek, (Guitar/Vocals) and Pip Hoyle (Keyboard/Vocals) were supported by regular attendee Jim Dickson (Bass), Dave Kettley (Guitar) and Nik Rieth (Drums) in what is one of the most solid, musically tight lineups yet.
From the get go they were energetic and on the mark, their music showing no sign of fatigue or simply going through the motions. For guys tracking around the 60 year old mark, they can still belt out an amazingly intense session of organised orchestral chaos. Younger on vocals tore into each song as if it was the Paddington Town Hall gigs in the 70’s that kick started their career, whilst Tek masterfully laid down his trademark guitar licks with such commitment. The presence of Pip Hoyle on keyboard and vocals completed the triumvirate, his cool handed approach to the ivories shining through and delivering the metronome to the cacophony of guitar overdrive.
Dickson, Kettley and Rieth weren’t at all punching above their weight, for they too were making good of their role in one of the greatest Australian bands and proved themselves to be worthy members deserving of respect. Dickson in particular (who plays in Younger’s other band The New Christs) said he just tries to be faithful to Radio Birdman’s music each time he takes to the stage with them. “It’s about serving the songs.” he said in a quick post gig catch up.
Radio Birdman are arguably one of the most intriguing live acts to come from the music scene, as they can’t be classified as one genre or another but proudly held (or created) the banner of being ‘sub-pop’. Their music is a blend of surf, punk, and rock, and yes pop, but above all it transcends all of these labels to become more than a sound, but a work of art. Delve deep enough into the lyrics and you’ll discover more than a Ramones-esque 3 chord/rinse/repeat cycle, but will find that there’s much more to Radio Birdman than can be articulated in a music review such as this. ( Note: I love The Ramones!) There is an intelligence to every aspect of the Radio Birdman franchise, the music, lyrics, and even the logo despite it being put in the Alternative music box for the past 40 years.
Local 3 piece outfit Pro Tools were a great start to the night, and gout the crown into the right frame of mind with their hard-ass punk set that got the attention of the capacity crowd. Clearly stoked to be supporting Radio Birdman, Justin (Drums), Andy (Bass) and ‘Pete The Stud (Vocals/Guitar) were reminiscent of the early Hard-Ons.
The Bearded Clams then took the baton and continued to step things up with their typically ‘hard and fast’ approach. It was great to see them again, and they went off as expected. Darren Keyser’s stage presence is matched only by his towering stature and edgy vocals. Both local acts were a perfect support for the headliners, and looked like they were out to have a good time anyway.
The crowd were appreciative, responsive and evidently determined to enjoy a night of good old-fashioned hard rock. There was no pretence and no theatrics- this was pure enjoyment. Radio Birdman might not be on everyone’s playlist, but they’re pretty hard to put down once you pick them up!
Reviewed by Darren Hassan- Sat 8 Nov 2014