It’s the lineup of all Aussie 90’s pub-rock nostalgics dreams at the Hamilton Hotel tonight. The Screaming Jets, who have just released Gotcha Covered, a collection of covers of their personal favorite Australian Rock Anthems – supported by Boom Crash Opera. Both of these iconic Aussie groups make daily appearances in our workplaces and homes through the airwaves – So pumped to see them both on the one night! The Jets themselves are an institution!
Totally recommend seeing live music shows at “The Hamo”, but take this as fair warning, “Sold Out” equals super squishy – so if you were hoping to get close to the bands, you had best be getting to the venue early and be one of the first few punters in that massive line that has been building outside the doors! Failing that you are still in for a treat as the sound is fantastic wherever you plant your feet.
For some gigs it’s slim pickings up the front for only the main act – for this show though, we are packing in like sardines right from doors opening. The first few rows, of course, are occupied by the absolute die-hard members of The Screaming Jets Fan Club, proudly downing their lanyards from the VIP meet and greet from earlier on in the day.
Survival tactics have already been employed – Friends are sending booze through the crowd to the barrier-huggers … maybe they’re not friends, maybe just allies, because I find myself trusted with tins and bottles and passing them on in very general pointed directions.
Boom Crash Opera drummer, Peter Maslen takes his place at the kit and the other band members follow his lead. Smiles on faces, they look itching to get started, and with a bang, they get stuck into Hands Up In The Air. Guitarist Peter Farnan is bursting out with laughs mid-riff – he is loving every second of this – thrilled to be in front of this capacity crowd tonight. With that much effort in his performance, excitement, and character, it’s hard to take your eyes away from him and his beaten up Fender Stratocaster from the get-go.
I gathered from audience mutterings on the way into the venue that it was a widely known fact the Boom Crash Opera’s vocalist is not the original… well, you wouldn’t know it! Andrew De Silva owns that stage just as he owns every word he sings. De Silva owns that crowd too, playing up to them, giving them what they want, and summoning them to sing along.
They end their set on Onion Skin and I can’t help but think – Man! That was over way to quick!! Those guys are an impressive live act!
We’re waiting now for The Screaming Jets. The stage is being prepped – everything in its place, fresh towels, checking of the mics – and then a few of us hear the sound guy over the monitors – “Have you got plenty of water up there? It’s fucking hot!” He’s not wrong! About a dozen extra bottles were added to the arsenal on stage.
The Screaming Jets burst onto the stage looking pumped and ready. Vocalist, Dave Gleeson – a true living legend of Aussie Rock – is bouncing around like a boxer ready to obliterate any opponent. He is so much fun to watch – lively, dramatic, engaging – stage presence plus!
After ripping out the bluesy Shine On, Gleeson introduces Blue Sashes – “This is a song for our armed forces who do such a bang up job – This is a song for our Vietnam Vets!”
Quick switch now to an acoustic guitar and a strumming pattern with a bit of a mariachi feel for Sad Song. Then “This is to all the people that say this song is special to me, and it’s special to us too!” October Grey!! There are so many dedicated fans here tonight – I don’t think I’ve ever been to a concert where EVERY SINGLE SONG is sung out word for word by the majority of the audience. Gleeson makes the most of this and theatrically actions the zipping of his own lips while the audience screams back the lyrics “nothing to say!”
Gleeson stands up on the monitors occasionally giving the punters at the back a chance to catch a glimpse. “Hot as a Frenchman’s fucking breathe it is!” Those extra water bottles are offering little relief and the whole band is glistening with hard-earned sweat!
The cult of The Screaming Jets is wailing out “Won’t someone please understaa..aaa…aand!!” Gleeson yells out “This song goes out to the 30th Prime Minister of Australia!” And there are roars from the crowd in obvious solidarity with that statement as Gleeson sings the last line of the song.
After finishing on Better, the band exits the stage only for mere moments and return with 2 amazing covers – Gimme Head and Rocking In The Free World.
What a night!! I’m buzzing with the rest of the crowd, some of them are calling for a second encore. Admitting that this was my first time seeing both of these bands live has me feeling as un-Australian as a can of Fosters. Fear not! It won’t be my last time. Initiation complete!
Review and Gallery Contributed by Elizabeth Sharpe