[MUSIC ~ AUS/INT]
Bonython Park, Sat 20 Mar.
Saturday night’s attendance numbers were reportedly better than Friday’s, large-ish crowd, full festival vibe and killer performances all round, although the show was temporarily stopped during The Superjesus’ afternoon set because there was a snake in the audience (seriously). Snake tales aside, the increased number is terrific news. Sunday has a hot, ‘last days of Summer’ kind of vibe and it’s been a hell of a month on many levels, how great to end a Fringe Festival with some kick ass rock’n’roll bands in a beautiful park with a few thousand people ready to get their rock on.
It’s been a long time since I last saw Killing Heidi and they have had a busy weekend – Red Hot Summer, AFL opening match, straight to UTSS – and they smack out a punchy set of Triple J ‘90s favourites. Siblings Ella & Jesse Hooper lead the five-piece band through Mascara, Superman Supergirl and the epic Weir. Ella is super up beat and heaps of fun.
As they did on Friday Rose Tattoo just slayed with their dirty boogie starting with Get Out Of This Place, Rock’n’Roll Is King and crowd favourites like Bad Boy For Love, Scarred For Life, Rock‘n’Roll Outlaw and an extended full force jam on Goddamn Rock‘n’Roll to finish.
If you read my summary of Friday’s UTSS you might have worked out I’m a major fan of Cheap Trick and the opportunity of seeing them twice in a weekend is a rare treat indeed. Especially given they are well known for playing a different set every night, so apart from a few songs like The Flame, I Want You To Want Me, Surrender and Dream Police etc it was all stuff they hadn’t played on Friday and in many cases ever played in Adelaide before. They opened with a splendid The Summer Looks Good On You (In Another World 2021) and then confused some people with their excellent version of The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour. However, knowing that they have previously done a residency in Las Vegas playing the whole MMT album, and that they are huge Fab Four fans, more a excellent surprise than a confusion!
I wasn’t expecting to hear He’s A Whore or The Ballad Of TV Violence (I’m Not The Only Boy) from the first album in 1977. Likewise Carnival Game from their self-titled album in 1997 and Woke Up With A Monster (from that album in 1994) are all a treasure trove for the die-hards and I was blissed out before they even got to Never Had A Lot To Lose (Lap Of Luxury 1988) and another off the new record Boys & Girl Rock‘n’Roll. It’s a treasure trove of ‘Trick gold we don’t usually get to hear from them and I was thrilled to bits. Several times through the set Rick Nielsen praises Angry Anderson as a legend and an inspiration and declares he wants to take The Tatts on tour in the USA. The sprint to the finish line is I Want You To Want Me, Surrender, Another World and a electrifying Goodnight. Many picks were thrown. Just the best.
Word from Saturday night was that ‘90s grunge rockers Bush were absolutely unmissable. I liked those first few albums back in the day and remember going to see them in 1990-something. Admittedly I haven’t spent a lot of time listening to Bush recently, but they were an absolute powerhouse rock band tonight. They sounded amazing, had great production, an awesome light-show, fantastic musicians and boy! can those boys do some weapons-grade Rock God posing! 1990s alternative heart throb, Gavin Rossdale, is still a good looking fella and sets hearts racing with many camera phones held aloft for big chunks of the set.
Bush’s set leans heavily on the new album The Kingdom from 2020, in fact six out of the twelve songs are all new ones (that’s 50% there maths fans), which may have been too many for some fans looking for ‘90s gold. Songs like Blood River, Quicksand, and Bullet Holes are all certainly in the wheelhouse of what Bush fans have come to love about their music, but in a festival setting a few more classics would have been welcome.
But speaking of classics…most of them came from their debut smash record Sixteen Tons from 1994; Machine Head, Everything Zen the show-stopping anthem Glycerine. The Chemicals Between Us (1999 Science Of Things) is the only other older song and people love that. The audience is very vocal and responsive and very clearly happy to be back in the Bush after so very long.
Last band of the last night of Under The Southern Stars 2022 is Stone Temple Pilots. And, like Bush, people have waited a long time to see these guys and apart from some shows in 2011 (no Adelaide), these are the only gigs that band has ever done in Australia. Three out of the four members are the original line-up: Dean (guitar) and Robert DeLeo (bass) and drummer Eric Kretz. So this is the 100% legit combo. We never got to see them with the original charismatic-yet-troubled front man Scott Weiland, or their other most notable singer Chester Bennington (also from Linkin Park) – both of whom passed away under sad circumstances. Jeff Gutt – a former X-Factor competitor – has been out front of STP since 2017 and have made two new albums together. He can sing the heck out of these songs (more of that later). In contrast to Bush, STP only do one new song (Meadow from their second self-titled album from 2018), the rest of the set is just all vintage gold centring around the first four albums but mainly the much loved first album Core from 1992.
Opening with Wicked Garden, and quickly followed by the anthem that is Vasoline, STP were quick to demonstrate they were not messing around. The entire crowd is singing along ‘VAS-O-LEAAANNNNNNNN’. It’s pretty cool. So it’s all STP gold, Down from #4 (1999) is terrific. They dedicate Plush to the memory of Weiland before an exceptional Interstate Love Song (Purple 1994). Crackerman, and Dead And Bloated (both from Core) turn up the heat. Trippin’ On A Hole (Tiny Music Songs from The Vatican Gift Shop – earlier they also did Big Bang Baby) are winding things up to a big finish with the gigantic Sex Type Thing.
STP deliver a huge sound and Gutt is more than able to deliver the vocals with style and power. I was a little distracted by the decision to dress and move at lot like Weiland though. He famously wore a three piece suit and tie, with a waistcoat and sunglasses, and Gutt has all of these things tonight. A lot of his mannerisms and movements are Weiland-esque, which I found kind of weird and tribute act-ish. He can clearly sing these songs and really well, but that element bothered me into a zone of not enjoying it as much as I might have otherwise.
UTSS has had a tough run on this tour. COVID, date and venue changes, an unsure public and perhaps not the most cohesive line up. It was certainly ambitious to attempt three nights at a large outdoor venue in Adelaide on the last weekend of the busiest month of the year. But some great rockin’ was had, terrific performances delivered and I got to see Cheap Trick twice.
Let’s see what happens to live music and especially festivals in the coming year.