THE STEMS The Gov Saturday 11 November 2017
Review by Geoff Jenke
The Stems returned to celebrate the 30th anniversary release of their classic debut album, At First Sight Violets Are Blue.The Stems were one of Perth’s most popular and iconic bands who formed in 1984. In a short but highly acclaimed career, they released 5 singles, 1 E.P and an album in less than 3 years, with each release reaching number one on the Australian Alternative Chart. They are also held in high esteem in Europe and the United States of America.
Opening proceedings were South Australian band The Trafalgars. The band formed in 2002 in the Barossa Valley, sharing a love of bands such as Even, The Kinks, The Who and You Am I. They have released two E.P’s and were the darlings of Triple J when they came out. However, the band have been quiet for a while, just playing special events, like support for Even when they come to town and shows like this. Unfortunately, it was a disappointingly (but enthusiastic) small crowd that witnessed the bands infectious 60’s/90’s style pop on this night. This is the tightest I have seen the band over the years and there is a promise of an album in 2017 on their Facebook page. Let’s hope it eventuates. Their short set included the favourite London Taxi and a blistering version of Neil Young’s Cinnamon Girl. I noticed Ash Naylor came out to watch the set and even filming some of it on his phone. He has taste in bands.
I must admit The Garden Path passed me by in the 80’s. I am not sure why as I was into Greasy Pop bands in a big way. Tonight, they reformed at the request of Dom Mariani (TheStems) and after watching this set I rushed to purchase the compilation CD they had for sale and it has not been off my CD player since. The Church was an obvious influence, confirmed by the band during their set. “We thought we would write some pop songs and be big… like The Church” Vic Conrad told the audience. The band released 3 albums in the 1980’s, the first two being on Greasy Pop Records.
This night they played a selection from all 3 albums and the E.P. With 4 guitars on stage (plus keyboard player and drummer), the sound was at times loud (‘n proud). It sounded like they have never been away. In the Dark and Into the Clouds were early crowd favourites but it was the extended final track Take It All Back that won the day for me. I hope they play again somewhere soon. They deserve to be headline band.
The Stems original members, Dom Mariani, Julian Matthews and Dave Shaw were joined for this tour by two of Australia’s greatest guitar players, Ash Naylor (Even, Rockwiz, Paul Kelly) and Davey Lane (You Am I). Celebrating the debut album, they played it in its entirety from start to finish. They also covered songs from their 2007 album Head’s Up as well as their debut E.P. Starting with At First Sight they soon had the crowd dancing, with two guys at the front mouthing the words to every song in front of Dom. The sound was electric with Don, Ash and Davey layering the guitar sounds to the heavy bass and drum back beat of sound.
Davey, wearing a white and black pinstripe suit looked the part of a rock n roll star. He showed his extraordinary talent by also playing keyboards, tambourine, harmonica beside guitar and also doing lead vocal on a few songs. His guitar playing and style is infectious. And when Dom, Ash and Davey all played lead guitar together, the heavens opened up and the rock gods smiled, as did we. The band was tight but more importantly was having as much fun as the audience.
Drummer David Shaw’s heavy Bo Diddly style pounding supplied the beat to Mr Misery and the finale Make You Mine continued into one of the coolest rock jams I have ever witnessed with Ash Naylor nailing some great guitar work, encompassing Baby Please Don’t Go in the process.
During the encore they played a sensational cover of The EasybeatsSorry. I don’t think I have ever heard this song played with such passion.
Shame on Adelaide for such a small turn out. You missed one of the greatest nights of rock and roll ever witnessed in this town. I thought I would never give a show a perfect 10 but this is it.
Three great bands rocked The Gov. It’s the type of show that will be talked about by those who attended for years to come. You should have been there.