Saturday, February 04, 2012

Yay for the Lighthouse Keepers

I've never really understood the nostalgia movement that is prevalent at the moment among the Babyboomers and -- increasingly -- Gen X. I mean, if you're nostalgic for the music, surely you just listen to the recordings, which were made in the time you're nostalgic for? Why on earth would you want to pay money to see a congealed lump of wrinklies attempting to be as hip as they used to be?

I ate my words last night when I went to see The Lighthouse Keepers at the charmingly shabby Canberra Polish Club. Admittedly, this was a special thing, in that they have only reformed for three or so concerts, and that's it. They were always a pretty laid-back no-fuss kind of outfit, so you knew that they wouldn't really be attempting to reclaim their youth or anything shonky like that. No, it was friends getting together for a long-overdue play, and if mistakes were made during the playing, then they had a laugh, we had a laugh, and a VERY good time was had by all.

Of course, the shock is not so much at the way the band looks, but at how the other audience members -- your peers -- have aged. We (a bunch of ukulele friends) first sat up on the stage (next to a big table of the band's parents, who have probably earned every white hair on their heads) and looked down at the incoming punters. A bad angle, considering all the receding hairlines and low-tide dyelines. Lots of nonchalance, real or otherwise, and the chairs around the edge multiplied until it looked as though there would never be any space to dance.

I was a horizontal recruit to the band, an awful term, I know, but so true of so many of my favorite things - what is it about the advice of lovers that sticks harder than that of friends or family? Anyhoo, I was a latecomer to LHK, who were on the verge of splitting when I first listened to them, so I kept a casual eye on what happened next, bands like The Widdershins, The Honeys and a fun little side project called Blumenintahls (if you're reading, Blue, it's 'Metal Goddess' I love playing). So I was really happy last night when 'March of the Green Men' was played mid-set. It's a Widdershins song, but was reworked into a King Curly song (LHK's Greg Appel is older brother to KC's Steve Appel) for the album 'Doomsday Piano'.

Here's MotGM for a quirky moment:

The band played three small to medium sets, as they have never had a huge repertoire. But every song was good, and every song held up to the scrutiny of time. They may have been low-key and laidback, but they were high-class musicians working with quality lyrics, all about relationships, happiness and pain. They've got the pop-jangle of The Smiths (and they played a Smiths cover to cement the connection) without the whine of Morrisey (yet Juliet's singing is definitely more sour than sweet) with a gorgeous mix of guitars, including slide guitar and harmonica, so they had a lovely country edge to the pop.

There's a number of their songs on Youtube, including their best known, 'Gargoyle':

Great song, although I prefer many of the others, like 'Springtime', 'Ocean Liner', 'Bad Mood' (my shower song) and 'The Beat (Hey I want my loving back)', which was played right at the end, right when I thought they'd forgotten it, and played it with two drum kits, so it went straight through my body. I danced behind the curtains up on the stage with Lynda (who being ten years younger than I had missed the original scene, and was wistfully enjoying this incarnation) during the first set, and then moved down onto the floor when everyone got the bug, and danced non-stop for the rest of the night. It was wonderful.

They have released an (incomplete) selection of songs on a CD called 'Ode to Nothing', which should be available at your local indy music store (do they still exist where you are? We have one in Canberra, thank Ceiling Cat), and is also downloadable on eMusic, along with another collection, Lip Snipe Groin that has some of the same but also some of the ones they left out.

Apparently they're playing in Sydney tonight, so if you like what you read and you can get to their show, here's the details.

I felt twenty years younger dancing to them last night while I ingested a couple of litres of cider, and I feel twenty years older today as a consequence, so perhaps I've just balanced out, and the experience has left me exactly where I should be, only happier.


Helen said...

I am all in favour of ageing rockers. I was lucky enough to get to the reunion of the Laughing Clowns at the Melbourne Forum in 2009, I think. What a night. Also the John Spencer Blues Explosion at the Espy... I think 2010 but the old memory's going, it was all the drugs you understand. But there are a lot of people who still got it, that's for sure.

Cat Drawings said...

I saw Colin Hay last night. He's turned into one of those fabulous performers who tell great stories and play gorgeous acoustic versions of stuff. Really enjoyed, although I'm a little jealous of your opportunity to see LHK.

Ampersand Duck said...

Yes, I don't mind the more alternate bands because they seem to be enjoying the chance to play together. I guess the ones that I get cranky at are the 'commercial opportunities' that are often the result of a promoter wanting to flog a chance... like those revolting Countdown reunions and bands like The Police who don't actually like each other but are happy to make a buck. I mean, some bands are already their own tribute band, like INXS. Awful, awful.

Zarquon said...

MotGM also shows up in the Greg Appel written and directed play Van Park which has Steve Kilbey (another Canberra person) and John Paul Young in it.

I'm just glad about the revival of some great bands because I never saw them live before due to 23 years living out bush.

Off to the last ever LHK's show tonight.

Ampersand Duck said...

Jo: he is good,isn't he? I certainly enjoyed him at the NFF. Was his crazy air-flute-playing woman with him?

Zarquon: ENJOY!

Ampersand Duck said...

... and don't be offended by the Steve Kilby jokes (if they dare to make them in Sydney).

Cat Drawings said...

No flute in D'port. It was lovely and relaxed. Think I might've been irritated by fluting..

The Elephant's Child said...

The blogosphere as an education. I had missed out on them completely, and liked Gargoyle. Further investigation needed. Thank you.

Marshall Stacks said...

I just came here for the joy of Mr Padge asleep under his paw.
Saw The Laughing Clowns a lot in the late 70's and that will do.
*this baby-boom woman going away now to put Aretha vinyl on the turntable*

Sara Bowen said...

Love the phrase "horizontal recruit"! Haven't heard that before! Dearest husband went up to Brisbane to see Roger Waters'"The Wall" tour which was basically everything I hate about famous bands rehashing it for a very expensive evening of excess. $40 for a programme, anyone? Small gigs with good musicians and no stage show sounds great... although I don't have a clue who you're talking about!

Ampersand Duck said...

That's because you're a horizontal recruit to Australia, Sara! ;P

stan said...

Devastated to discover at this late date that one of my favourite ever bands was playing in Canberra and I missed it, most likely sitting at home moping about nothing ever happening in this town. Thanks for the write-up and the photos.