The Gov Sunday 02 February 2020
Words – Geoff Jenke
For those who are regular travellers to Bali, would know about the amazing live scene there. If you are looking for something even more special with live music in Bali, it is Ubud you would meander to, where on any night of the week, there are dozens of venues playing hosts to live bands. These bands will play up to 7 nights a week, honing their skills into tightly knitted bands.
Unb’rocken are one such band, who through promoter (and fan) Jim Sharman, came to Adelaide last year, playing a gig at The Gov which I attended. They played a lot of classic rock songs by Deep Purple, Hendrix, Zeppelin etc, littered with a few originals. One thing that stood out was how good they are as a band. Tight. This year on their return trip they played a lot of more original songs, showing their versatility and how good they really are, which was a great initiative.
First up, how great are 12 noon sessions on a Sunday for watching bands play live. Would be interesting to see how popular they would be with some bigger name bands.
Before Unb’rocken we had the joy of watching a young man in a hat sing the blues. Anthony D’ Antoio, sounding a little like Dylan, (looking a little like a young Tom Waits) commenced with “Jailhouse Blues”, following it up with a Dutch Tilders song. He sounded mournful and melancholy while singing songs about hurt and pain. Nana’s favourite song was played as was his 5-year-old daughter’s song which “was about cocaine. Going to have to keep an eye on that one”. A very entertaining 45-minute set.
Unb’rocken have the “classic rock” line up of bass, drums, lead guitarist and singer/second guitarist and also have a “classic rock/blues” sound of the seventies, aka Little Feat, Free, Zeppelin, Allman Brothers etc. They start with a solid bass riff on the song No Name from their 2018 debut self-titled album. As the guitars and drums join in, the song builds to a rock sound before mellowing back with some beautiful Clapton inspired laid back guitar riffs, before culminating into a frenzied guitar duo.
B.B. Kings Every day I Have the Blues remains faithful to the Clapton live version, again with the two-guitarist feeding off each other, not trying to outdo each other, rather complementing each other. Butterfly from their album came next, before easing into Hendrix’s Hey Joe. The song went from quiet to loud, back to quiet and then a driving guitar riff to the end of the song. Definitely one the highlights of the evening. And that was the first set. Four songs in 50 minutes. It was just like being back in the pubs in the 1970’s watching bands.
The second set began with a bombastic sounding Zeppelin intro. It was like every Zeppelin hard rock song intro rolled into one. Then it eased into Grizzly Bear, the lead track from their album. This song was hard edged blues, a song about “a grizzly bear of a man who loved fishing”. How blues can you get?
J.J. Cales Cocaine was played at neck breaking speed that would probably have had JJ rolling in his grave, but it worked and led into that great 70’s tradition (that should have been left in the 70’s) of drum solo followed by bass solo and drawn-out jam. When everything came to a crashing finale, and with no set list to work from, singer Garengk asked if we wanted a new song. “We don’t have a title for this song yet”. He then laughingly thanked “Mike on sound. He makes us sound better than we really are”.
There were a couple newer songs with some of the best Zeppelin riffs that Zeppelin never recorded before a very bluesy You Shook Me All Night Long closed out the set. Again, only six songs in an hour.
Encore was their self-titled song, Unbrocken from their album. Short and punchy, this song rocked and rocked hard. Perhaps they should have played some more shorter songs rather than digress from the songs into long jams. Don’t get me wrong, I am a child of the 70’s and I love a good long song that moves in various directions, but in every song, it got a bit much.
Unb’rocken are as tight as a band could ever get. Their skills at playing their respected instruments is off this planet and they feed off each other beautifully. A word class act that should be on world class stages.
Unb’rocken play diverse music. I saw them about a month ago in Bali doing a laid-back blues cover set with the drummer playing a beat box instead of drums. This was also a special occasion for me.
Why are they not playing Womad this weekend?