Melbourne’s Back To The Corner gave punters an education in Aussie rock
Review: Back To The Corner at The Corner Hotel, May 19th, 2018
It’s not very often that an amazing lineup is put together thanks to the memory of an old gig poster, but then again, it’s not very often that old gig posters featured acts as brilliant as those that performed at last night’s Back To The Corner.
Back in January of this year, the Instagram account for Melbourne’s Corner Hotel shared an old poster from January 1987 which showed the bands who were scheduled to make an appearance on their legendary stages soon. Among some of Aussie rock’s biggest names, the likes of Painters And Dockers, Celibate Rifles, and X were also included. So how do you pay tribute to such a brilliant time in Aussie rock music? By putting on a gig that features all of these acts on the same bill, of course!
Yes, with all of these acts on board, ready to return to one of Melbourne’s finest venues for a night punters would not soon forget, the lineup was complemented with some of the finest up-and-coming acts, including Face Face, The Demon Parade, and Househats, who all came together to provide one of the greatest nights of Aussie rock you’ll soon see anywhere.
Sadly, earlier this week saw news come forward that Painters And Dockers frontman Paulie Stewart was going to be unable to perform due to having to undergo some urgent surgery. Regardless, with Stewart’s blessing, the evening was set to go ahead with guest vocalists handpicked by Stewart. With all performances being dedicated to the absent Stewart on the night, every band set to work giving their all in honour of the enigmatic frontman.
As an eager crowd piled into the Corner Hotel on Saturday night, they were soon met with dynamic frenzy of Face Face, who delivered a ferocious burst of indie punk rock. With powerful vocals at the forefront of the mix, and backed by one of the fastest drummers you’ll find anywhere else, Face Face’s position as the first band of the night made it seem as though they would be pretty hard to top, with the group delivering the sort of energy that most bands would aspire to.
Over on the main stage, Sydney’s legendary X soon appeared, complete with the same swagger and energy that audiences would have been treated back when they first formed in 1977. Almost immediately, the group dove into a set full of classics, with frontman Steve Lucas’ trademark vocals showing that the spirit of Aussie punk is well and truly alive.
Serving one of the evening’s loudest sets, the group tore through classic hits including ‘Suck Suck’, ‘Degenerate Boy’, ‘I Don’t Wanna Go Out’, and ‘El Salvador’, with diehard fans loving the return of the Sydney group’s groundbreaking punk sound that the name X is synonymous with, and thoroughly enjoying the ability to hear them perform in Melbourne once again.
The five members of The Demon Parade soon found themselves crammed onto The Corner’s small stage, kicking things off by promising to open up our minds with the rather fitting ‘Open Up Your Mind’. Fronted by Michael Badger (who pulled a double duty by also playing with Painters And Dockers), the group made use of the cramped space, and managed to make it feel as if they were one of the evening’s top-billed bands, with the sprawling rock collective serving up a frenetic, frenzied, yet effortless set full of psych-rock.
Sydney’s Celibate Rifles then found themselves darkening the main stage, with the casual appearance of a bunch of blokes you’d find at your local pub, rather than legendary Aussie rockers. With the band immediately jumping into a rendition of ‘(We’ve All Moved To) Buttland’, the crowd were soon jumping around and moshing as if they were attending one of the group’s legendary shows from the ’80s.
With wild guitar solos, and vocalist Damien Lovelock belting out the lyrics as if his life depended on it, the Celibate Rifles’ performances turned an already-wild evening into something truly out of control. With a set that included the likes of ‘Killing Time’, ‘Johnny’, and a cover of Hüsker Dü’s ‘Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely’, the group well and truly proved themselves as one of the best live acts in Australia today.
Following a brief intermission, the smaller stage was then utilised for the final time that evening, with Melbourne’s Househats serving up a blistering set full of the proto-punk sound that crowds have come to know and love from them.
Fronted by the gloriously moustachioed Freddy Fostvedt, and backed up by bassist Margy Noble and drummer (as well as organiser of the whole evening) Joshua De Laurentiis, the group’s set was truly something special. While punters talked amongst themselves, eagerly asking each other the name of the band on stage, Househats finished up their set with a series of tunes that evoked memories of the speed and dedication of Eddy Current Suppression Ring, and the eclectic musical nature of groups such as Parquet Courts.
As a brief hush fell over the main crowd, Melbourne pub-rock legends Painters And Dockers soon took to the stage, sans the energetic presence of their vivacious frontman Paulie Stewart. However, with Paulie’s blessing, the evening’s performance went ahead, with a number of guest vocalists taking part to help pay tribute to the famed singer.
Kicking things off with an appearance from Weddings Parties Anything’s Peter Lawler, the band jumped into their enduring cover of The Sacred Cows’ Kill Kill Kill’, before ripping into performances of ‘New World Order’ and ‘Pull Me Off’.
With handpicked guests that included 3RRR Jonnie von Goes, Huxton Creepers’ Rob Craw, vocalists from the Jesuit Social Services, comedian Damian Callinan, Eugene Hamilton, and Have A Nice Day’s Fiona Lee Maynard (who changed the lyrics in ‘All Men Are Bastards Except Me’ to ‘All Men Are Bastards Except Paulie), the group’s set served as a brilliant tribute to their absent frontman, with vocalists sharing memories and stories of Paulie Stewart’s influence.
Also including performances of their first new tunes in 20 years, ‘Tangent’ and ‘Holiday On Ice’, Painters And Dockers’ set well and truly showed why they are one of the most beloved groups in all of Melbourne music history. While it was a shame that the energy of Paulie Stewart could not be on display, his presence was well and truly felt, and the group’s promise to return once Stewart was back on deck was greatly appreciated by the eager punters.
With a stunning set of bands having performed on the night to prove themselves as heavyweights of the Aussie music scene, it all begs the question, how many other brilliant gig posters can we dig up to ensure that we continue to receive amazing lineups like this in the future? Here’s hoping for many more to come!
Check out Painters And Dockers’ ‘Die Yuppie Die’:
Painters And Dockers @ Back To The Corner, 19/05/18 Setlist
‘Kill Kill Kill’ (With Pete Lawler)
‘New World Order’
‘Pull Me Off’
‘You Know You’re Soaking In It’ (With Jonnie von Goes)
‘Soul Child’ (With Rob Craw)
‘All Men Are Bastards Except Me’ (With Fiona Lee Maynard)
‘Holiday On Ice’
‘Die Yuppie Die’ (With singers from Jesuit Social Services)
‘The Boy Who Lost His Jocks On Flinders Street Station’ (With Damian Callinan)
‘Know Your Product’ (The Saints cover) (With Eugene Hamilton)
‘You’re Going Home In The Back Of A Divi Van’
The article was originally published on Tone Deaf