Gig Reviews

The Drones w/ Jack Ladder, Annandale Hotel – 4th March, 2010

WORDS: Luke Stephenson

PICTURES: Kurt Davies

Yeah so I don’t usually write reviews, but I was asked nicely, so I thought I’d have a go.

First for the night was Jack Ladder. He had a killer band with him – Kirin J Callinan (who was wearing a remarkable pair of 3/4 length bright green velvet duds) on guitar, Crandles on bass and Laurence Pike on tubs. The performance, in my opinion, was fucking amazing, but I wonder whether audiences get Jack Ladder. Musically, he’s complex.

One time he told me that he’d stopped listening to anything other than Slim Dusty because only Slim’s music matched his pulse. His last record, Love Is Gone, was an easy enough record to get – early rock / soul sounds, attitude, hip thrusting, lip curling shit. But his new stuff (which he played at the show) is nothing like that. Imagine if Dave McComb fucked Julee Cruise and she gave birth to son who was raised with Alan Vega as a music teacher. That’s what the new stuff sounds like – that kid. I’m probably not making much sense. If you haven’t seen Jack Ladder yet, you should. He’s making big moves.

The Drones headlined (obviously). The place was packed. They nailed it, as you would expect. Every time I see the Drones, I leave feeling weird. There is something really unsettling about their performances. When they get stuck right into it (which they did), this kind of voodoo thing happens – the music is fucking loud and aggressive, but with a hypnotic, earthy undertone. And you sort of get pulled in and stuck (well, I do).

There is also something really Australian about it, but not in the typical sense. It’s hard to explain, but their music seems to evoke images of a dark, gritty Australia – small townships full of hard drinking men, someone being tortured in the bush, a rusted shed. I’m probably off on a tangent again. Anyway, despite the fact that ARIA haven’t acknowledged them with an award (in 2009 they missed out to the horrendous Bertie Blackman), they remain one of Australia’s few truly excellent bands.

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