Live 1982 – Juke
Early Hunters and Collectors live review from Juke magazine.
Author: Craig Reardon, Juke.
Date: 16 October 1982.
Original URL: N/A
It was easy to become wary of this Melbourne band, particularly after hearing their first recording, a 12″ EP. The non-commercial radio stations, and many new music fans had all raved about them, yet the standard of the songs on the EP did not really correlate with the comments being made.
Sure, there was a definite basis to a promising ‘jungle bear’ outfit, but not nearly enough to warrant the verbal feedback on was continually being bombarded with.
It was easy therefore, to judge Hunters & Collectors as an arty cult band who offered a new form of music in this country, albeit one with little substance. That is if the EP was supposed to be an indication of what the band were about, which is what records generally set out to do.
But the H&C PR machine, their fans, continued to herald the greatness of them, so with intrigue locked securely in my head, I set off to The Venue in St.Kilda without a definite expectation of what I was going to see or hear. Little did I realise that H&C catered for more than just these two senses.
Upon their arrival on stage the clouds immediately disappeared and all became clear regarding the fans dedication to the band. The mere sight of the band was inspiring. Up front, the quite human Mark Seymour belied the sometimes sub-human nature of his vocals.
As the night progressed, it became clear that his recorded vocals were not just the idle screams, moans and growls of an indulgent punk, but were the result of real emotion being expressed through his intense voice.
All of a sudden, he became a performer who demanded credibility. You knew that he knew what he was on about as he took the perspective of some kind of native urban preacher.
Behind Seymour the band of John Archer (bass), Geoff Crosby (keyboards), Doug Falconer (drums), Martin Lubran (guitar), and Greg Perano (percussion), loomed before an abstract African style backdrop, which, along with the lighting, gave an appearance and mood not dissimilar to the Expressionist settings of early German horror films.
Tall, foreboding shadows and jarring, irregular painted shapes, giving The Venue an appearance of a cavern bearing some kind of ritual corroboree. I’m not sure whether this effect is repeated at other venues or not, but on the night it was thoroughly effective.
As indicated in an earlier H&C interview, the instruments in the band carried their own weight. The guitar for example was not a ‘lead’ instrument as such, but served to support the surrounding instruments, which they in turn did for the guitar. The result was an intense build-up and final climax in rhythm, which moved most of the 1200 at The Venue.
Throughout the night, no less than 13 people (could’ve been more) took to the stage, including a horn section and female vocalists. Comparison to Talking Heads was thereby inevitable, yet this kind of arrangement, almost unique in Australia, effectively combined funk and jazz rhythms into the percussive, multi-layered beat. There was however, no single stand-out musician, each complimenting and interacting with the other, knitting together an uncommon musical teamwork.
It’s easy to see why live mixer Robert Miles is unusually included in the band credits too. His control of effects, and responsibility for the immense quality of the sound, easily earned him as much claim to the finished product, as any one of the stage members.
There were definitely epic songs performed throughout the two hour set – “Run, Run, Run” must have lasted at least twenty minutes – yet in no way did it bore or tire the audience.
The song built to an exciting crescendo, as instruments intensified and climbed to dizzy heights of climax; climax in the real sense of the word, where each rhythm improvisation added to the previous one, finally leaving the listener (the experiencer?) aurally and mentally satisfied.
Contrary to Simon Goss’s album review in an earlier Juke, the live renditions, at least at this performance, were superior to the studio recordings, maybe because at the gig, you could feel, or even live Hunters & Collectors rhythm. In addition, the songs have been improved over the six months of pressing hassles, and the record is only a minor, past representative of the current fastly developing band. Perhaps the next recording will be a truer representation.
Like the individual songs, the entire performance built to a climax, and after treating the audience with extended versions of H&C classic “Tender Kinder Baby” and “Skin of our Teeth”, amongst several impressive old and new songs, the huge “Talking to a Stranger” left everyone happy with their $6.00 worth of entertainment.
The repetition of words such as ‘intense’ and ‘climax’ in this review only serve to reinforce the nature of Hunters & Collectors live. Simplification would not do them justice.
This is not a band just to see or hear, it is a band to experience; and you must experience them to make any final judgement – their recordings are not enough.
Thankyou to Stephen for typing out this article for us all to enjoy!