Anyone old enough to see (and remember) Nick Barker and the Reptiles live will tell you that their shows were dirty, sweaty beery pub rock at its best.
The Reptiles played all over the country from beer barns to, backing up big names in arenas. They never cracked the big time overseas, but jeez they put on a big-time show. And Barker and co always had time for their fans. And that counted.
So 30 years later a few hundred now middle-aged Reptiles fans headed to Melbourne’s west to the Yarraville Club for what was billed as an anniversary, but it was more like a reunion. Hell, they even had the original roadie Lofty on hand!
Dan Brodie warmed the crowd with grungy rock and told how as a 15-year-old Reptiles fan he was a work experience kid at Mushroom Records and met Barker. Now he was backing him up. Dreams do come true, eh!
It was 30 years since Another Me was released and put Nick Barker and The Reptiles on the map and they followed up with two cracking albums (Goin’ To Pieces and After The Show) and an EP (Loose) before pulling the pin in 1994. (You can listen to them on Spotify, kids.)
The Reptiles opened with B4IGO, which was slowed down for a dirtier Stones-style sound and set the tone for the night with the bulk of songs played off After The Show.
Most songs had a slower edge to them without former keyboardist Matt Heydon on stage, and Barker’s Heartache State bandmate Tony Johannsen taking on bass duties for Drew Basford.
As the crowd settled into a few drinks the band stepped it up and those seated in the dining section on the left of the stage finally got up and danced. Like Reptiles gigs of old, the girls hit the front of the stage and Barker rolled out the classics. Chris ‘Hound Dog’ Harris delivered in spades with the harmonica, while Adrian Chenoweth on lead guitar and Dave Pinder on drums held tight for a rockin’ night.
Goin’ To Pieces, Another Me, Won’t Get You Loved, Can’t Hold On, Senseless, T.W.Y.G., Living On Daydreams and the singalong of the night Miles To Go, which Barker co-wrote with Paul Kelly.
Of course, the band’s biggest hit Make Me Smile closed the show, but it felt like the party was only just starting. It begs the question – why don’t the blokes hit the road again?
The fans are there and people traveled to the “one-off” show, but there’s got to be more surely? The fans want it, the band still kicks arse and there’s still a desire for great Aussie rock.
Bring it on, Barker. You were living the dream again. So were we.
Review Contributed by Daron Jacks