Some have never understood Kim Salmon‘s free-form, genre-defiant approach to music. To those folks, there’s really only one thing to say: back off, man. He’s a scientist. In solo mode, Salmon pulls out a few surprises – a guitar cable feedback croon, unique use of a tape machine – and weaves in a few more conventional numbers for good measure. He’s acutely aware of crossed arms and grimaced faces that meet him here – it’s nothing new to this proto-punk pioneer. For those that enjoy a bit of the spice of life, however, Salmon will always be the catch of the day.
Tonight’s co-headliners may initially seem an odd pairing – one slow and melodic to the other’s hard and fast. It’s worth mentioning, however, that when Died Pretty started out in 1983, their first drummer was a man by the name of Rob Younger. More on him later. Now, it’s time for another reminder of the true greatness that is Died Pretty live. One of the most influential indie-rock acts to ever emerge from Australia, theirs is a legacy – although not as visible as, say, The Go-Betweens – that still very much runs through the veins of the genre as a contemporary commodity. It’s also worth mentioning that, even in his 60s, Ron S. Peno can still outrun frontmen half his age. Peno’s presence is utterly magnetic, drawing you into classics from Doughboy Hollow and Trace and making a quarter of a century ago feel like yesterday.
Much like the Clash Of The Titans tour with the Hoodoo Gurus a decade prior, Radio Birdman have their work cut out for them. Still, the Sydney sextet are up to the task. 2017 marks 40 years since the release of Radios Appear, a landmark release in Australian punk. The album’s legacy can still be felt to this day – the primitive tumble of ‘New Race’, the rallying cry of ‘Do the Pop’ – and watching the modern incarnation of the band tear through these songs in the flesh is a testament to both their impact and their excellence. Birdman shows these days, admittedly, aren’t quite as chaotic as their heyday – even the aforementioned Younger, the band’s charismatic singer, appears to get a little winded around the halfway mark. Still, they rally and they persevere. If that’s not a perfect analogy for Radio Birdman itself, nothing is.
Radio Birdman and Died pretty played the Enmore on Friday June 16. Photos by Ashley Mar.