Crown & Anchor, Fri 7 Feb, 2020.
It seems like every second review I write wants to start by scolding Adelaide audiences for not getting out of the house to support the shows that do come here. Let’s take it as a given when I say The Cranker is maybe half full to see a musician who is by any definition, a dead set legend. Kim Salmon, the main cat in The Scientists, member of The Beasts Of Bourbon, leader of The Surrealists and countless other solo and band projects, is in town and playing with one of his new bands.
Using pick-up bands in different cities to combat the costs of touring a large group of people, makes financial and artistic sense. It means there is a sense of danger in playing with unfamiliar musicians and it could fall into a heap at any second (which it did a couple of times) which adds an undefinable edge to proceedings and the people there willing them on to triumph. With Cassette Claire Birchill on keys, guitar and backing vocals (she also served as excellent solo support), former Rat Cat (and current Shahs) bassist Amr Zaid and The Sunday Reeds’ drummer Shakey McGee, Salmon did not mess about when opening with The Scientists classic Frantic Romantic.
Over the course of an hour and a bit, there were songs from solo albums, Scientist songs, something old and something new. The set list on the stage was not in any order and the other members would have to just be ready to zig when they’d be expecting to zag, but everybody did admirably well. Mr Salmon himself seemed very bemused by keeping his fellow musicians uneasy.
So they cranked through newer material like Destination Heartbreak, Let’s Get Destroyed, Animal Man which are super cool songs. There is a clutch of slower songs that are all winners. Come On Spring was a song from Kim’s collaboration with Dave Faulkner from The Hoodoo Gurus called Antennae from 1998 and it was an odd and welcome inclusion. Cool Fire, from his time with The Beasts was slow and smouldering and Obvious is Obvious and You Know Me Better Than That both from the 1994 solo album Hey Believer. Poison Pen is a brand new Scientists song from last year and a Scientist classic We Had Love from 1985. Things wind up with the epic feedback riffage of Swampland – with Kim on his knees playing his guitar pedals like a mad scientist (oh wait).
A remarkable night for the few that were there. Support your local guitar slinger people.
All images courtesy of Ian Bell