The Aussie Wrecking Crew Tour saw Massive, Tequila Mockingbyrd and Black Aces, three bands from the new wave of Australian rock ‘n’ roll heading out on a Eurpoean Tour starting in Berlin, Germany in September and travelling through Denmark, Sweden, Norway, The Netherlands and today, the last day of this UK leg saw them playing The Eagle Inn, Salford on the outskirts of central Manchester, about ten minutes walk from Victoria Station. I hadn’t been there before so with the aid of Google maps I set off, I may not have found it but for a handily placed sandwich board with a big arrow pointing to the pub. It may have been a little off the beaten track but it was a hidden gem, all olde world wooden pannelling and leather banquette seats, a hive of rooms including a semi covered beer garden. The venue was like going into a National Trust Property, (Back to Backs in Birmingham, or something like that) with iron fireplaces, brick walls and picture window frames. I love seeing bands in a smaller more intimate venue, and beer prices were reasonable, so all was good with the world before the gig even started.
First up were Black Aces, four young guys from Bendigo (and no I hadn’t heard of Bendigo beforehand, I thought they said Bondi during the gig and had to confirm where they were from after the show!) a Pinball Wizard intro and they hurtled straight into Back On The Chain, from their debut album Shot In The Dark, then straight into Girl Like You before frontman, Tyler Kinder, told us ‘We’re Black Aces from Bendigo, Australia and we’re going to play some rock ‘n’ roll’ and that they did, in true Aussie style. More tracks from the album followed and they wee getting plenty of applause and whistles along the way! Tyler said ‘The next one’s a drinking song’ although he went on to say they were all drinking songs before launching into ‘On The Rocks‘ and my own half a beer, which I’d strategically placed on a convenient ledge, must have been enjoying it so much that it jumped off the ledge into my bag, without breaking! Fortunately the right way up too! Title track Shot In The Dark followed, Tyler said he hoped we liked it and to see the band after the show if we did.
I wondered if Alex and Pete on bass and drums were related with their matching 118 men moustaches, but apparently not, it’s mere co-incidence that they share the same surname. Tyler informed us that Sick As A Dog was about dirty women and the things they leave you with! After that he said they had two more songs then ‘We’ll be fucking off’ and they dedicated the first of these Soulstealer to Tequila Mockinbyrd, who were up next. Tyler jumped off the stage to play a few riffs down and dirty with the crowd before jumping back on stage. They finished off with Let It Roll a fast, hard hitting song to end their set on a high note and had them holding their guitars aloft, a drum roll and a ‘See you at the bar. Thank you!’ from Tyler ended their set. A good, entertaining opening from the four young Aussies. If you like bands like AC/DC and Airbourne you’re only really going to be able to see them in a large venue, unless you’re a multi-millionaire! Most of us aren’t but if you can run to a tenner and like good old, no frills, Aussie rock ‘n’ roll in a smaller setting where you can get within licking distance of the band then take a gamble on Black Aces, the odds are that you won’t be disappointed!
Next up came three piece Tequila Mockingbyrd, a hard hitting all female band from Melbourne. Their first song Money Tree reminded me of The Senton Bombs Tornado then a Prodigy-ish song. Estelle Artois then said the next one was off their new album Fight or Flight which would be officially released in the UK next year. The song being Catalyst with it’s reggae vibe in places. Josie O’Toole on dums was moving constantly, a little powerhouse. After a round of applause Jess Reily told us they were going to play a song they hadn’t played all tour, and went on to say ‘This one’s for you. It’s about stalking your ex on Facebook. I don’t want to see you with your new girlfriend! It’s called Why Are we Still Friends’ and it had Jess bouncing in time to the beat. Next came Everyone Down, which Jess advised was ‘About shaking everything your mama gave you’ was a punkier one, think Bullets and Octane meets Green Day. This Ain’t Dead a mellower song with a strong bass beat, reminded me of Alannah Miles’ Black Velvet. Then came a hard hitting cover of The Ramones’ Somebody Put Something In My Drink. Jess then said she just wanted to say something about the other guys on the tour, ‘You’re great fun to be with’ and they launched into the fast, punky Good Time with some great riffs before Jess asked us to put our hands together for Estelle.
Josie suddenly piped up from the back ‘What time is it?’ (7 O’Clock? Oops wrong gig!) Estelle quipped that she couldn’t read the set list properly. Apparently it was Jagerbomb time, a short poppy number. It used to be longer, with three more verses, we were advised and even though it was a shorter version, it was very popular receiving plenty of applause and whistles. Josie went on to introduce the next song telling us it was about leaving Australia and fucking off to England on a one way ticket, Never Go Home another popular one which saw lots of heads nodding in time to the beat. Josie then said they only had a couple more songs left and, even though it was weird to say it as we’d only just met, they really did love us guys ‘You’ve been a great audience.’ Of course we were, no reason not to be and I liked the was they told us a little bit about each song as they introduced them, and also that they all took a shot at introducing a song. Jess said the ‘Next one is called So Not Me, it’s about what happens when you piss Estelle off’ and I picked up a Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit vibe in the intro which led nicely into the last song I Smell Rock N Roll and they thanked us for making the last night on the tour amazing and promised to be back soon. I hope so and, as they’ve relocated to the UK, fingers crossed it’s won’t be too long!
Headlining tonight’s show were Massive, and frontman Brad would never be described as massive, but his diminutive stature belied a powerhouse of a performer. I have to be honest and say I hadn’t heard anything by these guys before so I, suppose I was stereotyping and, expected more of the Australian AC/DC/Airbourne/Rose Tattoo style rock, which is no bad thing, but after a ‘How are you fucking doing?’ from Brad they launched straight into songs which had me thinking more of British bands like Led Zeppelin and Queen. I didn’t catch every song title, but there were songs from their latest album Destination Somewhere and (according to our Dave Bradbery) ‘epic’ debut album Full Throttle. Sinking Ship had many heads nodding and was something like I’d imagine Led Zeppelin covering Queen’s Tie Your Mother Down to be. One By One with it’s chorus of ‘Do it again. Do it again’ and some powerful riffs had people singing along and Brendan Forward on guitar was entertaining to watch, pulling some great guitar faces, from what I could see through his masses of dark curly hair. The song ended on a powerful yell of ‘One’ and Brad holding his guitar aloft. He asked ‘Are you having fun out there?’ Then he said ‘Alright motherfuckers! Incase you didn’t realise this in an Australian fest. Black Aces from Bendigo and three girls who just destroyed the stage Tequila Mockingbyrd’ then came a bluesy one.
Jarrod then took his turn to speak and said that this was his favourite gig of the tour and dedicated the next song (which I didn’t get the name of but picked up a Led Zep’s Kashmir vibe) to rock ‘n’ roll bands like Tequila and Aces. He also thanked Esther for putting them on and all the rock ‘n’ rollers out there. Brendan was playing some powerful riffage which inspired someone to go up to stroke his hair, and others to clasp his hand after the song finished. A full pint suddenly appeared in his hand, as if from nowhere, he held it aloft and stuck his tongue out to cheers and whoops from the crowd.
‘Each Dog will have it’s day’ was the introduction to Beaten Dog from Destination Somewhere, a mellower song which reminded me of Chris Rea’s Road to Hell and even though it was mellower it still got a mosh pit going on a bit of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs was weaved in, for which Aidan took lead vocals, before they returned to finish the song. Ghost with some siren-ish riffage, had me thinking of David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and people who, a moment ago, had been in a violent mosh pit were trying to stroke Brendan’s hair! Then I realised everyone was turning around and looking up. Brad had made his way onto a balcony above me, so I couldn’t see him, but he then proceeded to edge along a ledge, about ten feet up on the wall, with his guitar still on but no harnass or helmet, surely contravening some health and safety law – the rebel! He slowly made his way to a balcony above the stage, luckily without mishap, and Brendan passed a microphone up to him and he proceeded to strut Angus style on the mini stage he’d found! Then he announced ‘We’ve got one more Now or Never‘ a fast one with some piercing ‘Heys’. He asked us ‘Give it up for our tour manager’ and we did, indeed, give him a round of applause before Brad announced ‘ We live here now so you’re going to see a fucking lot of us’ then he jumped down, back onto the stage. It wasn’t the last song after all Tequila’s Estelle got up to join them for a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Rock and Roll, Then that really was it and Brad ended the show with a ‘Thank you! We’re Massive! Thank you.!Good night!’
As I said I hadn’t really known what to expect from Massive. Sometimes you get a sinking feeling as soon as a band hit the stage and you just want to be elsewhere, the majority of times you think, yeah these are Ok, would happily see them again but you wouldn’t be bothered if you didn’t. This turned out to be one of the rare occasions where you’re just grabbed by the balls (not literally, but you know what I mean) from the opening beat and just blown away!