Horden Pavillion Review

Review of a cracking What’s A Few Men/Fate era gig in Sydney.

Author: Vivienne Lawrence, RAM.

Date: 10 August 1988 (Gig: 8 July 1988).

Original URL: N/A.

 

Article Text

Hunters & Collectors / Paul Kelly & the Coloured Girls / Ed Kuepper & The Yard Goes On Forever

Horden Pavilion, Sydney

The Horden Pav. Not the most accommodating of venues – tends to swallow up rather than amplify what little atmosphere is generated by most of its acts. Tonight’s line-up, however shouldn’t have too much of a problem. The gig is sold out and there’s a large number of people outside trying to buy fairly non-existent tickets. Even the support band is treated to an unprecedented (50 percent) capacity – an appreciative – audience.

Considering the audience this gig has roped in, Mr ED KUEPPER & CO should be well pleased. Ed’s bit at broadening the band’s appeal has, from all appearances, more than adequately succeeded – at the price of a certain blandness that’s invaded his most recent efforts. The band, spread comfortably across the stage, was putting on a premium performance when I caught the tail end of their act… The last two songs were from the latest album Everybody’s Go To, including the single Too Many Clues. They featured the dubious talents of the female vocalist / keyboardist whole sole aim apart from pumping a synthesised brass section was to bray an octave above Ed in the chorus. Harmonising, it seems, doesn’t enter into it. Still it all went down very well with the surprising receptive audience.

By the time PAUL KELLY & THE COLOURED GIRLS bounced on stage the barn was full, and the roar with which they were received was truly surprising. His popularity over the last few years has accelerated at an amazing rate and it was heartening to realise that most of the people present had come to see him as well as the headlining act.

Maralinga was the first song we were treated to – an ironic intro in light of the fact that there had been another Aboriginal death in custody that day. The first half of the set was mainly songs from Under the Sun. Don’t Stand So Close to the Window stood out as being one of the best, which admittedly wasn’t hear as homogeneity seemed to be creeping in, and no matter how good a songwriter is, homogeneity tends to the unequivocally boring. The second half of the set was devoted almost entirely to songs from Gossip and, as such, was superbly enjoyable. Full marks to the band for the performance.

Speaking of which, HUNTERS & COLLECTORS certainly put one on. The band were sporting a new guitarist – acquired perhaps for the purpose of feeing Mark Seymour for grandiloquent gestures such as stage posturing. At least that’s what it looked like.

The set began with Is That You? [edit: Back on the Breadline], as song that only gets better with each listening, swiftly followed by You Don’t Make Me Feel [edit: Say Goodbye] etc – the mandatory audience participation song. The evening’s repertoire consisted solely of the last two Hunters’ albums. Their somewhat admirable decision to play only recent material (not resting on laurels) is a constant source of disappointment. The thought if such classics as Tow Truck, Lump s of Lead and Skin of our Teeth being deleted vinyl is a chilling one. But we are not here to recall the glorious past.

The brass section, as ever, turned in some incredibly sublime moments (Stuck on You), and saved some of the more pedestrian offerings from the latest album. Suring the gig My Seymour’s nice silk shirt went rapidly from what looked like light blue to dark blue (as was intended, no doubt) and I just wondered how long before we got to see the builder’s / labourer’s singlet. I was rewarded with My Seymour’s glistening biceps on the last encore when, after something infinitely forgettable from What’s a Few Men?, the band indulged us with an utterly brilliant and drawn out rendition of I Believe. A truly fitting climax for a top night’s entertainment.

 

Comments

By sheer coincidence, Gary, who we requested to type out this article in 2013, was at this gig back in 1988! Gary adds some great context to the times from a fan perspective:

I was 21 and playing trumpet in a band called Summerhouse. Some of our material was influenced / inspired by H&C, and I probably have Jack Howard to thank for motivating the guys in Summerhouse to add a trumpet player.

At the time of the Hordern Pav gig I was mostly a jazz fan. I had some rock music in my collection, much of it top 40. Diesel and Dust and 10-1 (trumpet part in Power and the Passion) were amongst my first CDs and inspired by Do You See What I See on the radio I bought What’s a Few Men. I was vaguely familiar with Throw Your Arms Around Me from air play, and another Summerhouse member had played January Rain / Inside Fireball / Living Daylights to me. I liked them all, but I wouldn’t have called myself a fan just yet.

I knew who Ed Kuepper was and I knew a few Paul Kelly songs, but I was really only at the gig because the rest of Summerhouse wanted me there to see the H&C horns in action.

Needless to say I was blown away. The second song Say Goodbye (which I don’t think I’d heard) had an immediate impact on me and from there it only got stronger. Every note from the brass section had “power” to it and every horn line from the What’s a Few Men songs had new meaning for me. By the end of the gig I couldn’t have been more motivated to play rock trumpet!

I bought the Back on the Breadline tour t-shirt on the way out the door (subsequently wore it through the bare threads) and added Human Frailty CD, Hunter & Collectors (vinyl with bonus EP) and The Way To Go Out (VHS) to my collection as soon as I could gather the pennies.

And I’ve never looked back.