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So, it arrived. The first night of my epic six night The Living End bender – taking in all the studio albums from this iconic Melbourne band, played in full, from start to finish. And what better way to begin than with the album that started it all – their self-titled 1997 debut.
Preceded by some choice build-up tunes from DJ Cosmic Dolphin (aka Johnny from Children Collide) a superb five-minute video of the boys with footage from their early days through to now is flashed across a couple of screens on either side of the venue. It’s complete with a narrator thanking the fans for getting the band this far, and introducing them on stage to play the album.
The curtain was lifted, and to deafening screams. The boys blasted into that opening track and iconic anthem, Prisoner of Society. A short mention of how they’ve come full circle and are glad to be home, and it was into Growing Up (Falling Down) – delivered with stacks of gusto.
Introducing Second Solution as “the real debut single from this record” – Chris Cheney dives into the history books towards the chant section at the end of the track, telling the crowd: “We shot the video for this song here to an under 18's crowd, and they were way f**king louder than that.” The crowd subsequently turned their voices up five notches.
This is one of several flashbacks and interesting tales from the album’s era that the band re-tell during the show. All Torn Down is dedicated to the revamped Richmond Club Hotel across the road (where yours truly had a parma before the show) and its dramatic changes. Scott Owen also shared an amusing yarn about life as a fish and chip delivery boy prior to the song he co-wrote, I Want a Day, bemoaning the fact that a minimum chips ‘ain’t what it used to be’. These stories and bits of banter add a really nice touch to the show, proving that the guys are here to give fans an experience and not just belt the album out and go home.
Other highlights included Area 7‘s horns section jumping on stage for Trapped, the boys urging the crowd to “party like the 1990's” before Have They Forgotten (leading to subsequent chaos) and a quality take on the instrumental album closer Closing In. Mind you, the show was delivered despite Cheney having several tech problems with his guitars – one of which didn’t work at all during Save the Day, and was changed mid song.
After introducing the band prior to Closing In, Cheney declared the Melbourne crowds as “the best rock audiences in the world”, and mentioned how humbled they are to “still be around and able to do a tour like this.”
I for one was humbled to relive 1997 all over again, and if tonight’s show is any indication, the next five nights are going to be just as special. Oh, and a big thumbs-up to fellow 90's punk veterans The Meanies, who did a great support slot of their short, sharp and sweet tunes.