Play the Saints ’73 to ’78
Review by Jason Leigh
If you like Dave Graney then you would be well served as prior to tonight’s support as a member of Harry Howard & the NDE (Near Death Experience) he is launching his book “Workshy” at Imprints and then he has his own shows at the Wheatsheaf Hotel over the weekend. Tonight, along with Clare Moore on drums, Dave on bass is reservedly staying in his corner and leaving centre stage to the other couple, Harry and Edwina Preston whose domestic dynamic is evident in their between song commentary. Harry Howard praises the headliners, “Most of my music is influenced by the Saints/Aints in an osmosis sort of way” after their first song. Edwina impresses upon the importance of her “Bible” atop her Korg keyboard (It’s not there for religious reasons, if that’s what you are thinking – note the devilish allusions in title of their third song “Sick, Sick, Sick”). They play an interesting set albeit beset by barely noticeable technical difficulties only brought to my attention when Harry asks, “Please excuse my flange pedal”. A sole cockroach had been parading across an empty area between the audience and in front of the stage during their set and this seemed like an analogy for something, I just didn’t know what until I later consider Australian musical history and make up of this band along with that of the Aints and their later set commemorating 40 years.
During the break, I wander over to check out the merch table and note among the music, T-shirts and posters displayed on sale, a “Club ’76 guitar effects pedal” for $200 to “replicate the classic I’m Stranded sound”. Returning to the stage area, I recognise Bernard Hermann’s score to the contemporary (in 1976) Taxi Driver, including a Travis Bickle monologue being played over the PA as the intro music to the Aints set.
Ed Kuepper describes tonight as an “Adelaide debut” and commences “This Perfect Day” backed by Sunnyboys’ Peter Oxley on bass, the often praised during the set as being from Adelaide drummer Paul Larson and keyboardist Alister Spence reminiscent of Geoffrey Rush playing David Helfgott in Shine. A three-piece horn section comprising saxophone, trumpet and trombone dressed in grey tour t shirts looking unfortunately like the call-ins that they are join for the third song, “Erotic Neurotic”. Ed responds to audience requests with “We’re the Aints mark three. We don’t do any of that old stuff”, although later acknowledging tonight’s set, and the tour, as “nostalgic and not…nostalgic”. Prior to “Everything’s Fine”, he notes that he hasn’t introduced any songs which he continues not to do except during a sequence of unreleased songs from around the time of the Saints first three albums. Some of the introductory comments Ed makes among these songs regarding the albums they are “not” from comes across confusingly like a riff on the Abbot and Costello “Who’s on first” routine. He is aware of this and jokes that there will be a quiz later. “SOS ’75” which did not make it onto Eternally Yours segues into “Demolition Girl Part 2”, another song not from the second album then a song that didn’t make it onto album three, “Church Of Simultaneous Existence”. There is another “new old one”, “Red Aces”, before a return to the released material with “Brisbane”. During “Nights in Venice”, it comes to mind how much of an excursion the sequence of unreleased songs really was. This song was an extended Stooges jam that at the time I thought was going to end the set before the encore. Ed confirms this was originally intended as he talks us through the obligation and expectation of an encore before performing “Messin’ with the Kid” which includes an intro from “Hey Joe”. This is followed by “Stranded” before Ed asks the audience to prompt the horn section to the familiar refrain from “Know your Product”. After a short break, the (second) encore is “River Deep Mountain High” including an almost false start as the audience starts Ed off with the opening lines of the song. Concluding the hour and a half set, Ed states, “We’re a new band. We don’t know that many songs” which is probably his joking excuse for a cover version to end the set.