Sonic Youth V's The Scientists
There is a reason why QANTAS was voted the "worst airline" by Choice magazine last year.
I have had a long history of problems and bad attitudes when flying QANTAS which I won't bore you with here, besides, you don't have to take my word for it.
So sadly, due to the incompetence of QANTAS and their staff, who not only forgot to put my bag on the flight from Brisbane to Melbourne in the first place, but also took over 7 hours (despite their "commitment" to the contrary) to get that bag to me at my hotel in inner city Melbourne, I missed the start of the set by the Scientists.
But the ineptness of the flying kangaroo(d) wasn't going to stop me enjoying what promised to be a huge night at the Metro with The Scientists and Sonic Youth both performing a classic album as a part of the All Tomorrow's Parties Don't Look Back series of concerts which recently toured Australia.
We arrived a few songs into the set with Kim Salmon and The Scientists performing "When Fate Deals its Mortal Blow" from their classic Blood Red River album (actually it was originally an EP). For a collection of songs over 25 years old, they sounded rather contemporary and filled the cavernous Metro.
It was a youthful looking and sounding Salmon who took centre stage, in turn screaming and howling his way through the pre-grunge Scientists sound. It was obviously Kim's band as well, as he would look around to ensure that each of the band members knew when the changes or song conclusions were coming in.
The band were loose and loud in equal parts, they certainly didn't appear over-rehearsed, which totally suited these raw songs. With classics such as "Swampland" and "We Had Love" being well received by the growing audience it was a fun opening set and set the pace for the main event.
Sonic Youth took to the stage and immediately launched into a blistering version of Daydream Nation's opening track "Teen Age Riot", complete with a 5(?) minute guitar feedback extravaganza which was so well controlled I couldn't decide whether I should be screaming and howling my joy to express how impressed I was at their abilities, to take photos as Thurston and Lee held their guitars aloft in praise (adding to the cacophony), or to just let the wall of sound wash over me.
The band then proceeded to play through the entire double album, and what a great performance it was. For an album which is 20 years old, and which the band were initially reticent to revisit, they certainly did it justice and played with delight.
Unlike the Scientists, Sonic Youth are obviously a band where each member has an equal position. Vocal duties were shared by Kim, Thurston and Lee and drummer Steve was in equal parts ferocious and inventive (such as drumming with a maracca).
I was enjoying the gig so much I only made one visit to the bar for the whole Sonic Youth two hour set, and that was only because I needed to make a pit stop which took me past the bar in the first place.
If playing Daydream Nation in it's entirety wasn't enough, Sonic Youth also played an interesting version of Kool Thing, sadly there wasn't a Chuck D in the audience to rap with Kim Gordon, but it was a fitting finale to an album which laid the stepping stones to Sonic Youth's two most commercial albums (Goo and Dirty).
What a night! Two excellent bands playing two classic albums. Plus I still had a few more days to enjoy all that Melbourne has to offer (which is much indeed!) including a very interesting (and free) retrospective on Nick Cave at the Arts Centre.
The Scientists - Swampland
Sonic Youth - Teen Age Riot
Do you want to hear more tunes from these albums? Check out these links:-