Last Sunday I went to see The Living End at Taronga Zoo.
The irony of watching a punk rockabilly rock band perform in one of Sydney’s most affluent suburbs was not lost on me. Nor was it on the band, with front man Chris Cheney acknowledging the metal heads sipping wine up the back. Perhaps sponsors, ANZ bank, thought so too and decided it best to address this by blocking the view of the Harbour Bridge with a corporate marquee.
Not that it mattered all that much. The sunset harbour backdrop was still spectacularly Sydney and the Twilight at Taronga summer concert series is meant to appeal to a different crowd anyway. Unsurprisingly, it could have been anywhere for the diehard fans, like the bloke dressed in red flanno (flannelette shirt) up front before the band had even taken the stage yelling “What youse doing? Youse don’t siddown for the living end!” and to which his son replied “Yeah me dads right youse don’t siddown for the living end!”.
The Living End opened with an acoustic set as the sunset and the rains came with the help of string quartet the String Sirens. The acoustic set lasted seven songs. A surprisingly workable reggae rearrangement of their 1999 hit West End Riot, a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Looking out my back door and The Beatles Eleanor Rigby the highlights.
Then, it was on to what they do best. Amplifiers up and rock on. I’m not going to say much about the rock set other than Jimmy Barnes turned up and proved he’s still one of the best front men going about, The Living End are a very tight live act, and it was a blast from the past.
Listening to them live some 20 years since I first saw them, the experience was like watching an old episode of the Simpsons. Still makes you laugh but it’s funny in other ways now. Similarly, the music still got the juicing flowing but I appreciated it in other ways.
Songs like All Torn Down, West End Riot, Prisoner of Society and Roll On that deal with the costs of economic development, class divide, being slave to social norms and workers rights are still issues we deal with now – some 20 years later.’And while there has been some improvements in these areas it did make me think it starts somewhere.
This takes me back to the title of the blog post Who’s Gonna Save Us, they didn’t play this song but they didn’t have to, the sentiment rang through loud and clear to me that night. We’ve all got a responsibility to stand up for what we believe in and call out others. We may not have the platform of music and stage, nor their talent, but we all still have a voice.