Catching up on Concert Reviews: Boom Crash Opera live in Melbourne, 3 December 2009

10 Jan

Since I reviewed Opeth back in November, I’ve been to four more concerts. Do you think I’ve taken the time to review them until now? Of course not. I am a quintessential slacker sometimes.

Let’s do something about that – by reviewing something totally removed from Opeth.

Boom Crash Opera supported by Taxiride and Tin Alley at the Corner Hotel, Richmond, Victoria on 3 December 2009

One of my friends has been a fan of Aussie pop-rockers Boom Crash Opera (BCO) for quite some time, but had always been thwarted out of seeing them in concert. I figured it was time something was done about that, and accordingly bought tickets for us to see this show. After all, I don’t mind their music myself. When they had a good hook, they really nailed it and put out some memorable, infectious singles in the late eighties. Once, they even stumbled upon a truly sensational hook, and consequently their entire output has lived in the shadows of Dancing In The Storm:

Nowadays, they look rather older than they do in that admittedly terrible video. However, they still have their sound together, and as pretty much a nostalgia act nowadays, you know you’re in for a lot of the stuff on their Best Of compilation. As it happened, BCO played their best tracks, their worst tracks, and a good selection of those in between.

After opening with a couple of the better known tracks from their self-titled debut (if I remember correctly, Hands Up In The Air was the opener, but my memory is shaky), they launched into Dancing In The Storm third. I thought this was a brave move. Given half the audience was probably there to hear it and it alone, you’d expect them to do the standard setlist gimmick of building up to the big hit at the end of the main set. For a minute I wondered if BCO had blown it too early. The crowd initially didn’t respond to it that strongly, but they were soon into it, enthusiastically singing along. And in the end, it was a great move – getting the expectation out of the way immediately, so as to not overshadow the rest of their career.

The setlist focused primarily on material from BCO’s first two albums, though tracks such as Bettadaze from later albums showed up. I’m fairly confident at least some of the band were more on the inebriated side of life, but it didn’t affect their ability to play. Vocalist Dale Ryder didn’t seem to entirely have it together between songs, but since he wasn’t trying to convey any kind of public lecture like U2’s Bono does, it didn’t matter a bit. Richard Pleasance, the band’s founding bassist, made a guest appearance late in the main set to the cheers of the audience and played a good number of songs with the band. I wish I’d made a point of calling for a song by Serious Young Insects, the angular post-punk band Pleasance and BCO guitarist Peter Farnan were in during the early eighties.

My two biggest quibbles with the setlist were Mountain Of Strength and Onion Skin. I think Mountain Of Strength is pretty undeniably the worst song on BCO’s best known album, These Here Are Crazy Times, though it was better live since its defining aspect of ruination, the hideous intro, was pretty muted. There is nothing, however, that will save Onion Skin for me. It is perhaps BCO’s second most popular song after Dancing In The Storm, and I cannot fathom why. It’s throwaway nonsense fluff, and worse still, it was the last song of the main set. Talk about awkward placement; its intro is far more suited to being the main set or encore opener.

The main set instead should have closed with the preceding song, The Best Thing, which was indeed one of the best things of the night and felt like a natural note to end on. Along with that and Dancing In The Storm, the other highlight for me was Great Wall. To my surprise, they dug up Piece Of The Pie, which I am not the biggest fan of, but it didn’t fall flat like I thought it would. Unfortunately, my memory of the setlist beyond this point is all too vague.

I must say a word about the openers. Due to a mix-up, we were outside the venue for about half the set of the first opening band, who I believe were called Tin Alley. Once we got inside and joined the other few punters who had turned up in time, I found myself enjoying their music. They are a young band who hopefully have a bit of a future ahead of them.

The second opener – and the main draw for a minority of the crowd – was Taxiride, who had a few pop-rock hits in Australia a decade ago. I’d rather forgotten about them myself! They came out and did an enthusiastic acoustic set, and did a good job reminding me of radio in 1999. Get Set, Everywhere You Go, and Creeping Up Slowly were adapted flawlessly to the acoustic format and were immediately enjoyable. They were augmented by a selection of lesser known and almost unknown tracks from the band’s back catalogue that seemed to nicely satisfy their collection of diehard fans, and most of these tracks were immediately enjoyable too. A fitting support for BCO, and I can see why the two bands have played together on multiple occasions.

In summary – BCO and their supports provided nothing short of an unadulterated good time. Nothing sophisticated, either in the music or the presentation. Just good hooks, sing-alongs, and fun. When we hopped in the car to go home, I was completely unsurprised when a bloke walked past, pissed as a skunk, singing Dancing In The Storm gleefully as somebody, presumably his wife, guided him to a car and tomorrow’s hangover.

4/5

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One Response to “Catching up on Concert Reviews: Boom Crash Opera live in Melbourne, 3 December 2009”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Catching up on Concert Reviews III: The Church live in Melbourne, 5 December 2009 « An Ocean of Noise - 12/01/2010

    […] been to the Corner Hotel just a couple of nights previously to see Boom Crash Opera, I arrived at the venue to a much larger audience. Since I had come down with a bit of a cold at […]

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