live reviews

Pennywise, Strung Out, No Fun At All. NEX Newcastle. February 13, 2020


Sweden’s No Fun  At All are an electric overdose from the outset. The perfect opener.

Powerhouse energy nuggets that steamroll, sweat and shake the very bedrock.

It's impossible not to get caught up in their jagged distorto infection. 

Melodious mayhem at its very Swedish skater-punk best. And you can tell they are loving every sweaty minute of it.

So-Cal’s Strung Out scream out of the stalls and launch straight into their gnarled, snarled sledgehammer flavoured frenzy.

Fricken insane drumming... sounded like a double kick...whatever, that riser was alive and that RJ Shankle is a sheer beast of his own ilk.  

Jason Cruz’s vox are a little tour ravaged, but it matters not. He owns it tonight and these ears can’t fault Strung Out on this occasion. 

Sweaty, non-stop smacks  to the head that just keep on coming at ya.

Crowd surfing like it's 1990 all over again.  Newie knows how to party.

The room is well and truely warmed and primed  for Pennywise.

With the anticipation almost tactile, Pennywise explode into the night.

Can’t Believe it.. Victim Of Reality....the brakes are off and that runaway truck is aimed Straight Ahead...

Full house and it’s on fire tonight!!! 

Pennywise tees are the standard garb and beer and Jack are the poison of choice. 

“Newcastle, if you don’t give a fuck let me hear you..” I Don’t Care... snagged and snotty.

One Voice strips paint from the walls and points that blow torch firmly at the front row.

“Make Some Noise it’s a pretty damn fucken good song.”

Aliens...relentless... Just For You...chunkachunk ...

No slouching. No excuses. Just full on Californian chaotic  arse-kick from go to woe, as Straight Ahead gets a complete airing, along with a splattering  of gnarled PW extras.

The best punch in the face I've had in a.long time .

Mark Fraser- 


Strung Out. Image: Mark Fraser


No Fun At All: Image: Mark Fraser

The Stranglers , The Gooch Palms. Enmore Theatre. Feb 8, 2020.


Two years to the day since I last  caught Stranglers here at the Enmore. Was one of the highlights of 2018, so kinda excited to be back tonight.

Newcastle happy jacks,  The Gooch Palms are a two piece snotty, punk flavoured outfit.

Ragged fun with a little anarchy. A touch of Tenpole even

Not your thrash ilk, but more your  piss take, organised carnage type of delivery with a strong nod to the late 70s punk era, mullets and old holdens dragging down Hunter Street.

Guitar, a kilt and a stripped back drum kit... and a bucket of snarly energy to boot. Yay Newie!

Stranglers are electric from the outset. Duchess, Get a Grip On Yourself.

JJ’s quirky, happy dance moves, Baz owning centre stage, Dave taking those four sets of keys to an astral level and drummer Jim Macaulay's slick and incisive backbeat adding some cool new runs.

No Mercy. The demonic bottom end of Nice n Sleazy.

And how can you go wrong with the killer bass runs and space piercing keys of The Raven.

JJ takes on the vox,  with that bottom end beast slaying and driving  every minute of it.

5 Minutes keeps the pummel alive.

The spooky retro, carnivalesque keys of Golden Brown. Always a crowd fave. 

As is Always The Sun with its teasing rhythms  and kickarse dynamics.

Skin Deep’s catchy harmonies and popervescence.

Nuclear Device’s quirkoid tale of Oz.

Peaches keeps the hits peeling off. Bass once a again the king. 

Walk on By’s bludgeoning force.

The beautiful urgency of Something Better Change. JJ’s vocals sounding more gravelly at the tail end. 

The dark beauty of Hanging Around. Those swimming keys, killer dynamics...and of course some of the best bottom end on the planet. 

Tank... a brutal bold boulder of a beast. 

Encore gives us a “pop rock song” a song JJ wrote at 15.  Go Buddy Go....the very first song Stranglers ever recorded..

Some guitar theatrics and the dark, oerfect punk, swirling keyboard and growling bass riddled popestry of No More Heroes tears the Enmore another one! The true essence of The Stranglers right there! 

A sheer drilling masterpiece! Amd what a way to end.

Tight as fuck polished  punksters  of yore. And dare I say....debonaire musical powerhouse gents of today!!

Still got it... and then some!



JJ- The Stranglers. Image: Mark Fraser


The Gooch Palms. Image: Mark Fraser

Tamworth Country Music Festival. 2020

Ben Leece

First time at TCMF and although I’m only checking in towards the tail end, it’s still a sensory overload on every street.

I stop for the obligatory selfie at the Golden Guitar on the way in.

Checked into my tent complete with provided blow up bed setup, despite having swore I would never camp again. A decision I will later regret.

But hey, when you leave it to the last minute and the cheapest hotel room is pushing up towards a grand a night, what’s a guy to do?

Jaydin Shingleton Is my first musical encounter. A Kiwi with a killer rich voice, he’s happily punching it out down by the Ferris wheel. 

It’s a million degrees and 200% humidity, so I grab a seat and a beer  on the balcony of the Pig & Tender Box where there’s a swag of young buskers playing away on a truck right out front.

A lazy cruise around the main CBD, where there’s literally a busker every 50 metres. 

From 10 year old first timers to 70 year old Willie Nelson wannabes ... all seeming to be belting out similar covers, with notably very few originals in the mix.

But hey, it’s Tamworth, and for ten days each year, it’s country music central.

I decide to check out Tamworth Hotel where there’s some awesome lineups over the next few days.

The TH flavour is more alternative, with a fair slab  of Dashville artists on the bill over the coming days.

A massive dust storm hits the city, and for a few minutes, it’s a red dusty apocalypse. 

Minutes later it’s pissing down rain and before you know it, it’s back to that humid country scorcher.

Matt Ward and his band are centre stage at TH...some easy lunch time listening,  as I rehydrate and check out the agenda for tomorrow. 

The Pigs have a sizeable following down at FanZone...Sweaty as all fuck, slap-a-billy hay bale rolls in the mud...

Macho Moisturiser... it’s all about the fun...

A fine feed of Vietnamese and some killer G & Ts and it’s time to suffer the tent.

Storm from hell, gale force winds, sauna bath temps, half deflated anorexic blow up mattress... and 2am band wind-ups down the creek.

Z count... zero. 

Day 2.

Another early walk around town for an update on the busker situation. Brekky at Inland Cafe  (killer smoothies)... 

I stick my head into that grand old Town Hall and wow! An 11 piece mind-blowing, suit wearing Celtic ensemble is in full early morning swing in front of a packed house.

Complete with Irish Dancers...and funny to boot. Murphy’s Pigs.
Mind blown!!

And it’s not even 11am.

Saltbush are doing their own brand of cruisey, polished country on the ABC stage, before I take a short drive out to the Storytellers sessions at the Almond Inn.

19 year old Queenslander Matt Munro is in the midst of his tales of broken relationships...grandfathers past and working Dads. Country to the core.

Steve Killeen is up next and gives us the beautiful Sometimes Angels and some sweet 12 string Irish balladeering. 

Mandolin tales of ghost towns.....poignant story  tales that hit  home.

A cruise around Main Street to catch some more buskers and then  up to the Tamworth for the soulful country-etched charm that is Ben Leece and Left of the Dial.

Henry wagons has a short front of stage chat with James Ellis, and we’re away.

And today those Geelong backing vocals (Laura from Georgia State Line) are back in the house. 

The haunting airs of Apple Tree, Nothing  Not Anymore’s sad catchiness... all the more poignant with twin guitars and that sad steel.

But it’s the endearing, yearning vox of Leece that make it all that more special. 

New song is a killer and having the full ensemble together is obviously putting a smile on Ben’s dial.

Quick shower and it’s a ‘short’ walk to Joe Maguires at the far end of town.

It’s still a thousand degrees and G&Ts are the only solution.

There’s a fiddle and guitar duo on before Texas Strangers and it’s the vocal numbers that stand out.

The Strangers pump even more heat into the room with their affable version of countrified rock.

Dusty tumbleweed-flavoured originals peppered with enough ragged covers. 

A Million Miles Away...true country etched reality.... steel slide... train track back beat. 

Shout out to the firies with (They Call Me)The Fireman...key rattled honky stomp.

And if the catchy raw beauty of Sometimes Angels doesn’t win you over... then nothing will!

Oh, and new single American Dream is a killer. 

Torrential rain is well needed, but it means an Uber ride back to that infernal tent. 

The floors soaked, I’m soaked. 

At some stage I can hear Andrew Farris doing  INXS’ Dont Change out on the Park Stage, across the creek.

Happy to call it a night after that, but the horde of runamuck pissed idiots had other ideas. Gotta get out of this tent.

Day 3. 

It's 9am and the Annual Tamworth street parade is winding its festive way down Main Street.

I clear out the tent and move into a new room at possibly the worst Hotel in Tamworth. Beggars can’t be choosers, but this place is the ultimate shithole. And filthy. But it’s a bed.

Some cheesy garlic bread at The Tamworth (best in town) and it’s a killer afternoon of music ahead. 

James Ellis And The Jealous Guys look and sound the honky  tonk...slow sad pedal steel... nice  early opener. 

The perfectly  cruisy  intro for what lays ahead. 

Beers for lunch... sweat off another kilo...

Matt Ward keeps that country sad, Americana thing going. 

Latest single, Better Man tells a hard tale of life’s shitty moments. 

Pedal Steel...acoustic and electric guitars..beautiful backing vox....What I Should Do Now’s even sadder throes.

Civilians put a bit more blues into their slab  of country... well early on in the piece anyway.

Kinda rootsy and even a bit of brass in the equation. Not a regular giggling band but more a labour of love of sorts. 

Some absolute pearler   numbers in the mix. Classy and infectious.  Aural  sculptures of the sublime ilk.

Add a bit of Ben Leece towards the end of the set and how can you go wrong.....we’re topped off perfectly. 

Georgia State Line... smooth as ravaged silk.

Affable melodies that go down like a 95 black Shiraz...smooth and warm all in one.... a summer road trip with your favourite mixed tape.

Forthcoming album track, Jackson is an epic piece of sonic awe. 

Beautifully lush pop trails. Gimme more!

Little Quirks make their Tamworth debut today...and as the youngest band on the bill, they totally own that wind swept stage.

Tight. Slick. Special. 

New single Devils Ivy is electric... I Told You So bounces in the wind and who doesn’t love a bit of Cranberries.

Cover My Eyes is the brand new EP, and what a gorgeously harmonised pop nugget the title track is too.

Bury Our beautiful in its own sadness.

Crumbled is its own beast and kicks serious arse each time it comes out of its cage.

Strength to strength.

Ben Lee & Left of The Dial never disappoint. Tonight is no different.

Those honeyed vox, pedal steel and lush harmonies take it to another level.

Latest single Paper Thin. Just wow!

A beautiful infection.

A little help from Georgia State Line late in the piece. Priceless. 

Songs that speak to all your warm parts with the most beautiful of ease. 

With all intentions of returning after recharging the camera and the phone back at the hotel, I end up settling into a few numbers from Oh Harlow, a young female  duo from Queensland...with some lovely airs and a batch of catchy originals.

I lay on my hobo bed and watch the killer electric storm out my broken window... the same storm that apparently flooded a few towns south of here. 

Ten hours later, I awake feeling totally re-humanised, after two previous sleepless nights...

Some tourist shopping for the kids and it’s back on the road south. My first TCMF under my belt.

Best venue: Tamworth Hotel.
Best bands:Ben Leece & Left of the Dial, Little Quirks, Texas Strangers.
Fave new bands: Georgia State Line, Civilians, Murphy’s Pigs.
Best brekky: Inland Cafe
Best ice water: Post Office Hotel.
Best G & Ts: Tamworth Vietnamese Restaurant.
Coldest beers: The Pig and Tinder Box.
Best cheesy garlic bread: Tamworth Hotel.
Friendliest folk: All the  staff at Festival HQ.
Best (and slowest) Uber driver: John.

Mark Fraser- 


Georgia State Line. Pic: Mark Fraser


Civilians. Pic: Mark Fraser

Jupiter 5, White Knuckle Fever, Johnny Devilseed and Old Man Rubes. Hardy’s Bay Club. January 17, 2020.

Jupiter 5

Tonight is the second slab of Outaspace Presents shows at Hardy’s Bay.

Girl From Woy Woy sets a bluesy tongue-in cheek pace. Devilseed and co are in the house.

Country hoe down one minute and funny as F&@k the next. 

Raspy vox, guitar and harp and a stomp box.

Waits’ Heart Attack and  Vine.

Drunken pirate ambles...and moonshine  madness all round.

Short and sweet set before White Knuckle Fever hook straight  into their bat shit crazy antics.

“Let’s Get Fucked Up”... what a killer track... killer performance...think Kate Pierson on speed...and you sorta come close to the dont-give-a-fuck itis that is the swampesque nature of White Knuckle Fever.

Tude... rude...raucous it. 

“All I wanted was a fucken kebab”....another onstage fart into the mic, and we’re on fire.

The drunken harp  of RSA Blues.

Sex and smut all over the canvas...mic pleasuring...beautifully confronting.

The power of fun.

Instant fan.

Jupiter 5 knocked my nuts off first encounter and tonight they’re on (my) home turf... win win.

“We’re taking control of this ship....”

“Greetings  earthlings you have exquisite taste“ proclaims Jay.

And it’s a sonic Detroit-esque deluge of unearthly planetary noise that rips this Friday night apart.

Dirty fuzzed-up rock nuggets laden with eccentricity a la Dr Zachary J Smith....

Catchy... corrosive... killer.

“Professor Robinson set a course to the seventh galaxy.”

And so it goes...outer space, galactic, guitar-driven anarchy that rumbles, rocks and rolls it’s way through the celestial matter.

For this, only their third gig, the inherent deep rock heritage sure shines through. But when you’re talking ex members of Conspirators, Psychotic Turnbuckles, 69BC and Hitmen, it’s pretty hard to go wrong.

Supersonic heroes? Methinks so!

Oh, and an encore of Tats’ Nice Boys...the perfect sayonara from the sonic space boys!!!

Mark Fraser- 


Whiter Knuckle Fever


Johny Devilseed and Old Man Rubes

Sea Gypsies, Little Quirks, gold blum, Saint Spook. Entrance Leagues. December 20, 2019.


Saint Spook dish up a different style of guitar rock. 

Second song in and I can hear a sample of  The Cure’s Boys Dont Cry somewhere in there if I’m not mistaken.

Theirs is an infectious plodarama kind of popped rock that’s hard not to succumb to. 

Sometimes moody, sometimes barbed...always engaging.

gold blum are another guitar driven,  snarled rock combo.

Melodious guitarnage with more  than enough pop sensibility.

Bit of Blur...and not too shabby a rendition. 

A ring in stick  man...wouldn’t have picked it.

Beautifully scorched  pop anthems that creep into your safe spot so effortlessly.

And then along comes Killing in the Name of... did not expect that.

“Fuck you aint gonna do what you told me...”

And what a kickarse sign off! 

Little Quirks... what’s to say?...

Amazing on all levels. Beautiful moodscapes... killer harmonised pop songs...

Criminally under  rated in so far as how good they really are.

A new second guitarist  in the mix tonight... the sound is a little fuller but it’s the same inherent simplistic charm that makes Little Quirks so endearing.

Florence’s Town... beautifully simple...Crumbled’s jumperama infection...and the beautiful Hopeless Wanderer (Mumford and Sons)... so much energy. So much fun. Hard not to love these guys.

Sea Gypsies...hmmm a little too much hippy-esque funk for my liking.

Hate dissing on bands, but not my cuppa tea in  any respect.

Sure, musically, they are good at what they do, and they have a string of tracks to prove it, but it ain’t doing it for these ears on this occasion.

That said, their new single Mexico is an absolute killer piece of pop... guess I was expecting more of the same.

Mark Fraser-


gold blum.

Little Quirks

Texas Strangers. Woy Woy Pub. December 14, 2019.


Last time I caught Texas Strangers, they were missing half their band. Rather than cancel, they plugged on with a couple of ring-ins.

Tonight it’s a kinda  full crew and with a new single under their belt and their excellent Bordeline album on show, there’s more than a tad of anticipation. 

Seger’s Turn the Page has the punters on their drunken feet and kinda sets the tone for what lays ahead. 

Sure, country is the flavour, but there’s an affable rock element that sets TS apart. 

Sunset Gypsy’s tale of curses and cheating ways has more than a little Cash swagger in its veins.

The rail track rambling twang of Catching the Red...How Could You Do Me Like That?’s bar room brooding and cowpoke catchiness.

Funny one liners...a Celtic rendition of I’ve Just Seen a Face.... and it’s hillbilly heaven at the olde pub tonight...

Album fave Always in the Rain kicks off second set and what a killer it is on all fronts. Heart warming, infectious as all hell and deserved of wider listening. 

New single American Dream is pure anthemic, popped, countrified rock and has hit written all over it. 

One More Shot of Whisky’s carnivalesque keys and Irish charm perfectly showcases frontman Steve Killeen's heritage...and all of a sudden we’re throwing down pints at Paddy O’Reillys...

And it’s that point of difference that gives  Texas Strangers  that special edge.

A bit o country a slash of Irish, a stab of feelgood rock and plenty of tongue in cheek... such is the TS charm.

Heading to Tamworth in January! New single out soon.

Mark Fraser- 

Texas Strangers

Hard Ons, Arse, The Mis-Made. Landsdowne. December 13, 2019.


Unfortunately I missed The Mis-Made, but  after the quality run  of killer singles they have released over the past year, I’m sure they kicked some serious arse.

And speaking of arse, Arse are apparently one of Blackie’s fave bands at the moment...and on that recommendation, you kinda wanna be front and centre.

They don’t  disappoint, with their three way  thrash and short sharp stabs of beautifully mangled noise.

Some manic slower moments, but it all comes back to that rumbling runaway Aussie tainted carnage.

Hard Ons  latest album is a fucking  certified cranker and tonight we cop it live!

Beautifully brutal and then some, with those inherent harmonies dripping all over the canvas. The metal mayhem of Made to Love You II and Float...the popesque infection of Bad Bad Temper To Match and Not Just For a Day...bliss on butane!

On stage is where Hard-Ons love to be and after more than 35 years, tonight it shows tenfold. 

Small stage. Big crowd. 

Perfect sonic synergy all round. 

Keish totally in his groove up front, Murray in full control of the back end, Ray bleeding all over that perfect bottom end rumble and Blackie just smashing tand carressing those guitars within an inch of their lives.

The legend that is HARD ONS lives on!

Mark Fraser- 


Hard Ons



Outaspace Garage Meltdown presents....Sore Points, Thee Cha Cha Chas, The Dunhill Blues, Fangin’ Felines, Thee Evil Twin. Factory Floor, Marrickville. December 6, 2019.


Thee Evil Twin are a three piece sonic assault laden with sweet distortion and a kickarse backbeat.

Solid. Sweet. Scorched.

Short shots of perfectoid rock pellets.

The ideal opener!

Wollongong’s Fangin’ Felines possess that perfect blend of melody and mayhem.

Seasoned rock-ettes with more than a little pop in their punch.

Beautiful, sometimes retro, moods that bleed and bulldoze simultaneously... and some killer harmonies to boot. 


The Dunhill Blues are just as raw and ragged live as they are on record.

Sweaty surges of thumperama that punch  you right In the face and in turn take noise pollution to the next level.

No subtlety here, just pure solid chunkachunk  garage, punk tinged rock... and the odd psychedelic sidetrack...

Hammer me deaf!

Thee Cha Cha Chas are at the tail end of their East coast tour and their unique, two way,serratedly fuzzed  rock charm comes complete with lime green alien garb tonight. 

A lot rockier than last encounter... could be the PA? Either way they are on galactic fire this evening. 

Tight as time travel and equally as enthralling, their quirked Melbourne fun smashes it out of the park.


And Alternative Ulster just firmly seals the deal.

Alien arse cheeks  indeed!!

Canada’s Sore Points are a whole new level of noise.

Theirs is a snotty  power punched brand of aural assault that comes double time, double fast and double loud.

A twopenny bunger delivery of bludgeoned punkesque pellets that are as sharp as shit and  just seem to explode on impact.

Go Canada!

Great lineup. Great night. Kudos to Outaspace for making  it happen.

Mark Fraser- 


Thee Cha Cha Chas


The Dunhill Blues

Thee Cha Cha Chas, Space boozzies, Lion Island. Hardys Bay Club, November 23, 2019.


Loved Lion Island’s last album, so was a little excited to see how it transferred live.

Drummer Bob is now on guitar and the sound is raggedly garage-ish.

Joanie’s on crack Opens up and it’s into your veins instantly with its catchy throes.

Infectious indie, melodic power pop with shades of Westerberg... a similarity I’ve noted before...and a great one at that.

"I saw the clash in the supermarket"... gloriously messy. 

Sweet jagged  guitars drive the bus and it’s feelgood all the way.

Bunch of new songs, plenty of punch and some gnarlier garage moments.

Sure there are some raw moments but hey, that’s rock n roll. 

Space Boozzies hail from the coast and even have their own tween queen dance crew.

Dirty, raggedy triple guitar riddled rock pellets that crawl drunk from the gutter and slam their way down the alley in their own haggard way.

Undertones’ Teenage Kicks does snotty justice to the original.

A one minute punk onslaught...some psyched 60s squelcharama...some more gnarly punk-esque carnage...a bit o smooth sax...and in all, it’s one sweaty hair ball of a set.

Fresh from Japan, Melbourne’s Thee Cha Cha Chas  are a two piece that kick as hard as a fully fledged combo.

Scorched guitar and footsie drums all in one with she vox  and bass completing the picture.

Not afraid to kick some arse, have a chat and generally fuzz it up, it’s  hard not to succumb to their unique charm.

And Alternative Ulster!!! FRICK Yeah!

Fresh as fuck and beautifully ravaged.

Big shout out to Milly and Adam from Outaspace for having me along (and for the Dunnies record).

Mark Fraser- 


Space Boozzies


Lion Island