We were fired up after Friday night at Solbar, Maroochydore where the ExPat crew turned out in force to raise the roof with us! So come Saturday, we were eagerly on our way to The Triffid, an iconic venue in Brisbane to play to an already Sold out audience of 800! And... well, over to Mark Chandler of "Bands in Brisbane" for his perpective: So Friday night saw me off calling the basketball for the Brisbane Capitals, playing KTO. Kathleen Turner Overdrive and Karoshi to befuddled ballers waiting for Dire Straights to be played, when the redoubtable Mick Hughes messaged me. He was inviting me to go see his Cool Britannia show at The Triffid on Saturday night. Sure, I said. You don’t say no to Mick “Three Fingers” Hughes.
Off to The Triffid, it was sold out and it deserved to be. Cool Britannia doesn’t just tap into the British expat diaspora, it’s almost mandatory to attend if you started life on that little rock in the Northern hemisphere.
Three bands, all paying tribute to a place and time from the rich history of Britpop music and New Wave. First up were Every Breath You Take, a tribute to The Police. Wow! They nailed it. Every little thing they did was magic. The hardest voice to get right from all the songs sung that night would have to have been Sting’s Geordie twang. And boy did this guy knock it out of St. James' Park. The thing about tribute bands is that some get the look right but the sound, the very essence of the band, is not quit right. Every Breath could have been up there wearing hula skirts and shredded cardboard wigs and all you could see was Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland. Although I'm pretty sure the guitarist was actualy Chris Christopherson.
Then, coming off the bench were Setting Sons, a tribute to the Jam. One of my great regrets is never having seen The Jam live, thanks largely to Mr Weller not liking to fly. Phttt! Well, I still haven’t seen the Jam but I have now seen a reasonably good facsimile. Not as razor sharp as The Jam in looks or sound, but seriously, how could anyone ever be? But to hear that bass, those lyrics, that sharp, snappy drumming. Sensational. And it was worth the price of admission just to hear the greatest lyric ever written. “Two lovers kissing amongst the scream of midnight. Two lovers missing the tranquility of solitude. Getting a cab and travelling on buses. Reading the graffiti about slashed seat affairs”. Brilliant.
Then, after The Jam, “It’s Coming Home, Football’s Coming Home” starts belting out across the Triffid. I hope they wrote that song ironically because….oh, never mind.
Cool Britannia, seen em before so I thought I might grab a nap. After all, it had been a busy week. No friggin chance. First chord of Morning Glory and the crowd erupts. Yelling, screaming, stomping and singing along as if their lives depended on it. And they didn’t let up until ten minutes after the band had left the stage. As I said, I’d seen CB before. But this was a whole different box of cheese. They were tighter, more confident, sharper and Mick’s voice, which struggled at times last I saw them, absolutely blitzed it. This was a very different gig to the one I saw last year. There had obviously been a lot of Brit Pop water (and ale) pass under the Live music bridge between then and now.
My only criticism of the night was the lighting. Not sure what was going on there but the poor old guitarist was belting away in the dark for a good many songs. He even played an entire solo in a blackout that made the Exmouth eclipse look like a fireworks display. And to those LD’s that like to stick lamps at eye level right behind the band. Don’t, it makes you feel like you’re starring into the sun for an hour.
So, If you’ve never seen Cool Britannia then put it on your bucket list. Not just for the band, but to experience the crowd as well. The energy and pure joy coming from the crowd as they sing along to every song just has to be experienced. And seeing Mick and the band up there soaking it all up, loving every minute of it and giving it back to the audience with interest, is sensational.
So four amazing sold out shows in one week, all very different but all exceptional in their own way. What it proves though is that Brisbane really is enjoying a golden era of Live music right now, with lots of excellent venues and with a ton of amazing bands queuing up to play in those venues. But please, don’t take it for granted. We are only ever one greedy property developer away from losing some of those venues. So get out there, experience Brisbane's Live music scene and support those musicians, those venues and those promotors that make our town’s scene so fertile and special. Like my Falcon, let's not take a backward step.
Mark Chandler Band of Brisbane
Photo - Kim Grimley