Australian Band Asks No Quarter

Positive live review of a Canadian gig at the RPM.

Author: Greg Quill, Toronto Star (Toronto, Canada).

Date: 22 May 1987 (gig: 21 May 1987).

Original URL: N/A


Article Text

Rock ‘n’ roll talk is always about the next thing, the next sound.

The sound of the moment is U2, the Irish band whose current North American tour is spoken of in hushed, reverent whispers. It is, those who’ve seen it say, the sound of 1987.

But last night at RPM on Queen’s Quay E, about 1,200 locals caught something of the sound of 1989.

Australia’s Hunters And Collectors, who blend tough, uncompromising rock ‘n’ roll riffs with three-part brass lines and relentless, simple rhythms, have little in common with U2’s dense mysticism and hypnotizing guitar squall.

Hunters And Collectors are the children of a different musical stock. They deal in functional rock ‘n’ roll, in music that forces its audience to react in strict, symmetrical measures. It is music that once we might have danced to.

But it’s hard to dance to Hunters And Collectors – as hard, in fact, as it is to dance to U2. Though their musical backgrounds are different, both bands share a common, often terrifying emotional space. The both strip the human experience to the bare nub, they expose the frailty of our condition and demand we come to terms with it.

In a sense, Hunters And Collectors, whose Living Daylight EP was released here last week, are concerned with more earthly subjects – capitalist exploitation, sexual inequality, the gruelling pain of a routine existence – than are U2, whose interests are, for the most part, spiritual.

But the Australians tackle their subjects with astonishing intensity. Last night, songwriter/bandleader Mark Seymour fascinated the large crowd with passionate renditions of songs from the band’s 1986 Human Frailty album and with new, less familiar material.

This is an uncompromising band. It asks no quarter. And in the years since its formation in 1980, it has become an organized and polished unit. Fueled [sic], like the few Australian bands that have made their mark in recent years, by powerful, stark rhythms, Hunters And Collectors also carve their way into the heart of things, often with uncomfortable results.

Seymour, screaming “You don’t make me feel like a woman any more!” in a vitriolic parody of a lovers’ quarrel, turns the ugliness of the sentiment on himself. Later, he promises his lover, “I will squeeze the life out of you.”

These are often grotesque images. But the band with the sound of 1989 isn’t about to lighten up. These are tough times, and Hunters And Collectors are ready to face them down.



Thankyou to John for typing out this article for us all to enjoy!