The Factory Theatre was set up for a good old fashioned rock n roll show for the farewell tour of The Pretty Things. The influential British rockers are finally calling it quits after 55 years of being irreverent and pioneering the sex, drugs and outrageous rock lifestyle. For this show they are joined by Tumbleweed and DJ Owen Penglis (from the Straight Arrows) spinning some groovy tunes.
Unusually for a music gig, The Factory Theatre was set up with rows of seats tonight from the dance floor to the mixing desk. I guess they were anticipating the average age of the punters attracted to the gig and accounting for dodgy knees and hip replacements.
These four Illawarra lads sauntered onto the stage and started to crank out their brand of stoner rock. The first song started off a little flat and stilted, maybe it was the seating arrangements in the room that caused a little confusion (for me at least), but they quickly warmed up as more and more of the crowd wandered up and started filling up the standing room.
With roaring fuzz driven guitar riffs blasting through cranked amps, smashing drums and an insistent, laconic vocal drawling through each tune; it was easy to close the eyes and be transported back to the haze laden 1990’s.
There was a good mixed bag of tunes from the band’s extensive back catalogue; from the early more Detroit than Detroit guitar riffs of Stoned and Captains Log, to the heavy bottom ended tracks like Daddy Long Legs and Silver Lizard. And in between, there was plenty of psychedelia.
The bass driven bottom ends were booming, but maybe these Wollongong icons have mellowed out a little with age and notched the amps back from the stratospheric, ear-bleed inducing settings of Tumbleweed gigs of the 90s. The Brown Note was just a burble in this gig.
The Pretty Things
On came the Pretty Things, three out of the (almost) original five wearing their 55 years in the music industry proudly; they also sported two younger new comers on bass and drums.
A bit of a stilted start, with all power lost to the on-stage amps the moment before they struck their first chord. A little rummaging around behind the scenes and power was quickly restored and they launched into the 60s garage sounds that were influential to so many bands around the world.
Seats were abandoned as the crowd filled up the standing room in front of the stage in response to a bit of stage banter and encouragement from vocalist Phil May.
What followed was a journey through rhythm and blues, 60s garage, psychedelia, the rock opera of SF Sorrow and hard rock – a veritable journey through a pirate radio station playlist. And they still had it. Tight as a wound up snare, this obviously well-rehearsed group were more than match fit and ready for anything.
The rhythm section drove all of the songs from start to stop, keeping time like a metronome; so that some of the dirtiest blues and garage guitar from Dick Taylor could wander around and punctuate songs like a random psycho axeman. Topping all this off was the unfaltering vocals of Phil May and occasional blues harp of Frank Holland.
Brown Note, where were you? Probably hiding in the brown acid.