On The Street Tivoli Gig Review

A review of a 1986 Human Frailty era Hunters and Collectors and X gig at the Tivoli, Sydney.

Author: Mark Mordue, On The Street Magazine.

Date: 5 February 1986 (gig: 28/29 January 1986).


Article Text

Hunters and Collectors and X (Tivoli, Sydney)

I’ve been to so many great shows put on by local bands in the last year it’s certain in my mind that we’re experiencing a renaissance in quality Australian music as the older acts are joined by newer forces and a plethora of good small bands just beginning to develop. Ed Keupper, The Go Betweens, Nick Cave, Chris Bailey, Tactics, Hoodoo Gurus, The Triffids, Not Drowning Waving, The Wreckery, Scattering Order, the list goes on and on. If it’s not already obvious things are really beginning to happen.

Tonight’s certainly a vindication that seasoned warriors don’t necessarily burn out after blowing their first shot at the big time. The whole disposable nature of the pop consciousness that dominates out lives seem to enforce a very negative myth that you only get one crack at things or once you’ve been around for a while you must be a burnt out shell.

Both Ed Keupper and Nick Cave certainly dispel that kind of lazily cynical presumption, and tonight X and Hunters and Collectors also show that sometimes people who’ve been doing it for a long time just get better and better.

People who stay honest to the guts of what their best music is about will always deliver some sense of greatness whatever the bad luck, poor decisions, upheavals and imposed limitation that have restricted them or caused them to stumble in the past. X and Hunters and Collectors are bands such as these.

But before we review the night’s proceedings may I may a special mention of a certain bouncer, a sparedick and aggro boofhead if ever there was one, who added his sour touch to what was otherwise a superb evening. Aside from being rude to myself and a number of other patrons at the door it was painfully obvious he was handing out to let off some aggro, evidenced in him pushing an individual by the neck down the stairs in an unprovoked attack. Hardly a great ad for the Tivoli.

X start pumping out a mean primal rock so totally ‘gutsy’ it comes as a surprise, even a joke almost, that singer and guitarist Steve Lucas asks for “a more meaty sound” at the end of the first song.

After that raw power rules, with Cathy Green’s drumming kicking this beast of a band along in fine style. Ian Rilen’s (ex Sardine) bass playing leaves me speechless for compliments as well. And having a girl sax player on a couple of songs puts a surprisingly sophisticated edge on proceeding, hinting at jazz and emphasising the blues side of the band, without undercutting the essentially savage and physical qualities that make X so fiery and appealing.

What’s doubley interesting is that all the members equally hold your attention without any one ‘star’ dominating, and also how incredibly male the music is in spite of having two women on stage. Visceral in the truest sense of the word.

Hunters and Collectors open with a new song and then sweep everyone into Throw Your Arms Around Me. After that it’s sheer bliss and exhilaration all the way. What comes across most strongly is the sheer emotional power of the band, the tremendous honesty contained in every song and the sprawling territory they so effortlessly cover. The understated lighting enhances this directness, this sense of very basic but deeply affecting celebration that the Hunters involve their audience in.

Highlights include… well, everything. It was that kind of night! If called upon to name names Id have to say I Believe, their cover of a Sardine song, I Couldn’t Give It To You, Little Chalkie (which demolished me) and a song Say Goodbye that bodes well for their upcoming album which I suspect is their new single. There was also a song dedicated to Albert Facey which just about overpowered me with it’s beauty as well as impress upon me how strongly Hunters and Collectors are an Australian band borne out of an environment and history that shapes every ounce of their being.

A band we can all feel proud of, a band with something noble about them. A band who are telling the truth.



The ‘cover of a Sardine’ is “Stuck On You”. The ‘song dedicated to Albert Facey’ is “What’s A Few Men?”.