Reduced circumstances. They come to us all. But is the Soldiers Club in the coastal New South Welsh town of Batemans Bay really reduced circumstances for a never quite were (on the international stage at least) band like the Melbourne rockers The Living End? I remember talking to living loud legend Jimmy Barnes once about shows like these; he was very keen on them, and their ability to keep his band ‘match fit’ during the many fallow periods when he was off making legacy TV with something called ‘Chit Chat‘ on Cable Rock channel Max.
But I digress; the band are here, so is Sentinel Daily, and so are five hundred or so of the South Coast’s most feral lapsed JJJ listeners. Whatever the actual circumstances of this gig, The Living End remain one of the most compelling live propositions of their generation given a following wind and a decent PA, so why not just enjoy, especially when one of those two things is present here at the Soldiers Club?
The inability of said PA to give vent to double bassist Scott Owen’s at times superb playing means that most of the songs turn in to, inevitably, vehicles for the always arresting guitar work of Chris Cheney; equal parts Setzer, Summers and Steve Jones, his playing throughout on tracks like One Step Behind, Proton Pill, Til the End and of course State of Emergency and Roll On alternates between beguiling, lazily stunning and downright outrageous. Assured and masterful (despite the bashful admission of having consumed ‘a few cans’), Cheney is without doubt the most pleasing to the ear Australian guitarist currently treading the boards, and the opportunity to witness him here at close quarters more than makes up for any other of the little quibbles your correspondent may be harbouring.
As Sentinel Daily leaves, a couple of members of Batemans Bay’s finest arrive, Paddy Wagon at the ready, just in case some of the evening’s most enthusiastic revellers start enjoying themselves a little too much; a reminder of the frontier town nature that sometimes prevails at shows such as this. But, reduced circumstances and bad sound not withstanding, it would take a churlish mind to declare the Living End’s surprise Soldiers Club appearance as anything other than a roaring success. More power to them.