Saturday, September 10, 2022

you haul ass to the city and meet some people, a wilde child and northman david, both members of that wonderful church family, old timers, strange souls caught in the glamour of our leading man, a boho genius from planet ziggy, a real talented mofo with brain power turned up higher than mere mortals. in an age of idols he's the antithesis, the thinking  woman's artiste extraordinaire. he took the path to pop stardom and ended up so much more. slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, pistol and sword of untold destiny, irony and fate on a hot plate. we will follow that star. we do.
i don't know, it's not much that gets me out these days but here was a much needed event, a shot in the arm, a deep fix for a stoned pessimistic captain mission, jonesing for something fucking alive and vital. energy fixes i need:
plant medicine and cosmic thinking
the ocean and its waves on my body
sex and love with beautiful women
good stimulating thought provoking books
the church
these are the things i need to live.
last time i saw them was in a strange venue somewhere far out in an unknown place, a suburb of sydney i felt out of place in, in a venue that was chaotic and among a rowdy crowd of drunk people, pushing and heaving, carrying on like saturday night down the pub with the inxs cover band playing. the sound was distorted, i was in the wrong place, the songs went in and out of phase, the mix kept moving around and i promised myself next time i see them i will find a place at the back, in the middle and listen. 
don't get me wrong, i love being down the front but with musicians like these guys unless the sound is perfect it's a trade off. i want the quality.
this time around, the metro is a known known, a place i have seen many great bands and always found the crowd reasonable, the sound good, the small intimacy of a club yet the volume of a bigger one. tonight the queue outside was impressive, it must have been full capacity as they disappeared around the corner. i meet with gareth koch outside and we exchange our first coherent conversation, he's funny, we have a chuckle. the queue gets longer. we figure its sprawling around the block. 
we are the last to enter, northman david gets a text from our man inside, he's not going on until we are in.
the place is packed. i find a spot on the side, near the mix desk, settle in, hash cookie enhanced, ready to receive.
no track by track list will describe what is a very interesting mix of songs, they range from the classics to the new ones, all pulse with an energy i can only describe as new. the old songs are reborn, sounding vital and powerful. they sound like new songs. they penetrate the atmosphere like a lit fuse that winds around every one standing there in an ocean of people all totally captivated by the pulsing throbbing energy. two drummers make the sound feel more stadium, it's a bold but excellent move. percussion drives the songs but the man i watch memorized by is jeffery cain who in many ways seem to be like an infinite energy machine, perpetual motion in the shadows, linking up with the rhythm section of drums and bass. steve has always had a very distinctive bass sound, his playing looks like it's natural, like breathing, a zen technique where the instrument is the man and the man the instrument, it's beautiful to watch but very rare. i guess it's that thing, where you do what you love, time disappears, boundaries melt away. 
i aways thought of steve as a master musician, a man at the top of his game in almost everything he does. a leonardo, a picasso, australia's unsung legend for those who despise australia's obsession with sporting people. that was twenty years ago but what happens when you push even further, push beyond such things as hero, legend, rock god, artist, writer, actor, painter. i guess the veil of that glamour slips away and you are left as a man, humble, grateful and genuine. and then when you connect with the audience and the audience connects with you, it's a feedback loop, and strangely it feels like grace. 
so here i was in this feedback loop, massive amounts of energy, arcs of sound, mesmerizing beginnings, subtle crescendos, immaculate endings, at one point i see tim loose a drum stick and laugh as it reappears. not a beat missed. 
it's just all these people on stage are inside a zone and they invite us in, and we feel it, the transcendence,  the truth of nature, to rise spirit, to go beyond mundane reality into something beyond. this is not just rock and roll. 
the band have changed so much with the new incarnation. i adore where they are going, i just wish the newer songs were longer. they seemed to end far to early. each new song felt like a novel edited to a short story, i can't wait to hear the finished masterpiece in one sitting. a concept album. 
highlights were, 'it could be anyone, tantalized, columbus, shadow cabinet, you took, is this where you live, all the new songs especially no ascension. far out it was all top class stuff, not one moment where quality was forsaken, and  after two and a half hours i'd say there was a fair amount of quantity in there as well.
so i leave after the lovely rachel films me offering a few words on the show, i dunno, caught off guard without my make up, i feel like i need to go home, take this energy and feel it wash over me but she's whisked her camera out and i blab on about my post gig thoughts. 
i don't remember the journey home, all i know is my blood feels like its fresh and my soul feels good. sitting in this amazing energy, like a weird junkie priest high on some kind of magic drug. 
that gets me thinking about the way that energy sounded, the way the guitars all fed off one another, the interplay, the fusion  wielded by a union of members, the sum greater than the parts, that energy vibrating its way through me, into my bones, into my blood, a frequency of sound in waves, casting its influence. i was spell bound, i still am. the northman is, as is wilde child, we are all part of the same experience, steve's world of the church is our world, we all believe, we all know and it feels great to share it with one another. special.
i am cast back to the gig i mentioned in that strange part of sydney carinbah where outside the highfield venue we all wait for taxis and wilde child says to steve who is wearing wrap around shades in the moonlight, 'you look like a rockstar.'
steve without missing a beat says,' rockstar yeah, i just played at the highfield carinbah, some rock star.'
we all laugh.
but you know what?
steve is our rockstar and that's what matters.
48 hours later, i'm still riding that wave.

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