Ned Heckling The Band – Live Gigs and the Concert Experience

I love listening to music. Surprise surprise, I know. Seriously though, there is almost nothing more that I love doing more than sitting back and listening to one of my favourite CDs. However, if there is one thing I like more than listening to an album, it’s going to one of my favourite band’s gigs and seeing them do what they do best – play live.

There aren’t many experiences that come close to seeing a really good band play live. The raw, unadulterated noise emanating from the wall of almost comically big speakers. The band members, draped in sweat, make love to their instruments in a way that only a rock star could. The fans, oh the fans. Be they sober, drunk, or high on any sort of mind-altering drug jostle, dance and jump en mass to the tunes. The atmosphere is unbeatable.

I went to my first concert when I was 12. The 2004 Big Day Out. Metallica. For as long as I live, I will never forget their set. Standing right in the front-centre of the mosh pit, I witnessed the skies turn a deep, sinister dark blue as lightning flashed above and behind the stage, setting the perfect scene for a Metallica concert. From behind the painfully sharp feedback and the dull blue lighting, James Hetfield, soon followed by the rest of the band, sauntered out onto the stage and broke out into a spine-tingling rendition of Battery. Needless to say, the crowd erupted and a few songs later a man pushed past me, showering me with the blood that was pouring from his face. Awesome.

Since that glorious night I’ve seen a multitude of bands live, each one as exhilarating as the last. Yet despite my love of live music, I haven’t been to a concert for over a year – the last one being the 2008 Big Day Out where I was fortunate enough to see Rage Against The Machine.

Fortunately, this past Friday night a friend and I went to The Annandale Hotel to see Sydney band The Next. Recently signed by Sony, The Next took the stage with an energy that made me proud to be a music fan. Supporting their new EP Light of Day, the gig was an ultra success as the many fans that made the trip out lapped up their performance. You can be expecting an EP review very soon.

Sorry, I digress. My point is: breaking my ‘gig drought’ reminded me of what it’s like experiencing live music; the energy you feel when the band plays their first chord, the chills you get when you and thousands of others break out into voice when a popular song is played, and that feeling of pure fatigue you feel when you stumble out of the mosh pit covered in sweat and beer. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time nor the motivation to buy tickets, wait in line and then put up with sweaty men rubbing against them whilst a band blasts their eardrums to kingdom-come. Fair enough, I think.

Thankfully, it is for these reasons that bands release live albums. These albums allow you to sit back and imagine the spectacle as you listen to the crowd, feedback and ad-libbed musicianship that goes along with a live gig – all the fruits without the labour. Some of my favourite albums of all time are live albums. Some of these include AC/DC’s AC/DC Live, Lamb Of God’s Killadelphia, Led Zeppelin’s How The West Was Won, and Rage Against The Machine’s Live At The Grand Olympic Auditorium. These albums truly capture the respective band’s energy and talents, as well as the crowd’s involvement – signs of a great live act.

Whilst I was scouring my music collection looking for live albums, I came across what is probably my favourite live album of all time – Tower of Power’s album Soul Vaccination: Live. Dynamic funk band Tower of Power are a tour de force when it comes to writing and recording funk tunes, with their repertoire including songs such as You’re Still a Young Man, So Very Hard to Go, What is Hip? and my personal favourite Soul Vaccination. With over 40 years of playing experience, their live show is one that should not be missed. Unfortunately, the chances of them touring Australia are very slim and thus fans are forced to turn to one of their four live albums to experience such an event.

Released in 1999, Soul Vaccination: Live is the live album to get. A recorded compilation of performances at The Fillmore, San Francisco, California and the Fox Theatre, Stockton, California in October of 1998 on their 30th Anniversary tour, this album catches almost everything there is to catch at a Tower of Power concert. The horn section, consisting of Emilio Castillo (tenor saxophone), Norbert Stachel (tenor sax), Stephen Kupka (baritone sax), Bill Churchville (trumpet and flugelhorn) and Jesse McGuire (trumpet) is so tight, allowing the songs to come alive as the melodies and harmonies are flawlessly executed in front of a bombastic crowd. This synchronization is a result of the sublime playing of the rhythm section, with Nick Milo on keys, Jeff Tamelier on guitar, Francis Rocco Prestia on bass, and the incomparable David Garibaldi behind the kit. The band is rounded out by Brent Carter and his soulful vocals.

The immense funk that this group is capable of is immediately evident in the first song Soul With a Capital ‘S’ and is only enforced as the album continues. Prestia’s precise bass lines, coupled with Garibaldi’s metronomic grooves allow the horns to blow their lips off throughout the entire show. Stand-out tracks are tough to pick, but include title track Soul Vaccination which is made to sound impossibly easy, the soulful Willin’ to Learn, the raucously funky You Got to Funkifize, and the ever-popular What is Hip? Honestly though, every song is special and deserves recognition, as the band flawlessly make their way through fifteen deliciously catchy tunes that are only aided by the impeccably sounding audio-mix of the album.

I love this album; I’ve listened to it so many times over the years. In my opinion, any judgement of whether or not a live album is good boils down to whether or not it accurately captures the feeling of a live gig. This album does. This album really is as close as you can get to seeing Tower of Power live from your lounge room. There is no higher compliment than that.

Upcoming Jazz Events

Wednesday 26th August, 9:00pm

Jazzgroove at The Basement ft. Mark Ginsburg

‘Generations’ Album Launch w/ Special Guest Mike Nock (solo)

Gen. Admission tix $15 (plus booking fee)/ Dinner & Show Tix $61.80 per person @

Thursday 27th August, 9:00pm

Alamode ft. Michelle Martinez + Casey Golden Trio + Special Guests @ The Basement.

Gen. Admission tix $15 (plus booking fee)/ Dinner & Show Tix $61.80 per person @

Friday 28th August, 10:00pm

James Morrison & Emma Pask w/ special guest Sarah McKenzie @ The Basement.

Gen. Admission tix $25 (plus booking fee)/ Dinner & Show Tix $73.80 per person @

Friday 28th August, 8:30pm – 11pm

The Mute Canary Project: Eric Dolphy Tribute @ The Sound Lounge.

Tix $18/$14/$12 @ or at the door if not sold out.

Saturday 29th August, 9:30pm

Darrius Willrich + Donyea & The Darryl Beaton Band @ The Basement.

Gen. Admission tix $30 (plus booking fee)/ Dinner & Show Tix $76.80 per person @

Saturday 29th August, 8:30pm – 11pm

Alister Spence Trio @ The Sound Lounge.

Tix $18/$14/$12 @ or at the door if not sold out.

New residence for Marsala beginning on Friday 21st August! 8pm – 11:00pm

Marsala @ Waverly Bowling Club.

Free entrance! Free car parking for 100 cars!

Got a gig to advertise? Email details to

Must Read