It’s a stinking hot day in Adelaide, in a run of stinking hot days. How is it ever fair that Adelaide can often be hotter than Darwin or Alice Springs? Sensible people are paddling at the beach, swanning about in their swimming pools or collapsed in front of whatever air blowing device they have at home. Fortunately sensible people are NOT the kind of people who go to see The Painters & Dockers.
The Meatbeaters are on when I get there. I like these guys. There is no messing around. They are a meat and potatoes kind of band. By which I mean they have a thing they do and they do it really well. Foot down, volume up, Motorhead influenced punk flavoured racket. Great start.
I was struggling to remember when I last saw Painters and Dockers. I still haven’t worked it out, but safe to say a very long time ago. They were always a strange prospect back in the day. They were way more subversive than your average punk band. They had a killer horn section but weren’t a ska band. They wrote high energy power pop songs so super catchy that radio and TV had to play Nude School even though it was about nudists and had a video with the band members stripping off and rolling around in pig shit. They looked like they took more exotic drugs than you had ever heard of and were not only all living in a commune in Nimbin or somewhere, but when they played live the entire commune was on stage. They were (and remain) and fantastically fun band to go and see. It always felt like apart from the entire commune on the stage, all of us were part of the band too. Dancing on the stage, taking the mic singing along.
From 1982 to 1998 they were a formidable outfit and while their records didn’t always get on mainstream radio (can’t imagine SA-FM ever played Die Yuppie Die or Eat Shit Die) they always had a strong following. After P&D split various member still worked together in The Dili All-stars and other projects with occasional gathering under the P&D banner. In 2014 three members of the classic line-up Paul Stewart (voc/trumpet), Dave Pace (trumpet) and Mick Morris (guitar) regrouped and have been keeping the Dockers torch burning bright, with the father and son pair Colin and Michael Badger (guitars), Dahl Murphy on drums, and Richie Bradbeer on bass. Colin is hardly a new recruit, this is his twentieth year as a Docker.
So here we are Painters and Dockers 2018 and they are fucking great. Right from the off Paulie is strutting about the stage, mugging for cameras, striking rock star poses and belting out Betray Me With your Kiss. For the next ninety minutes they quite simply kicked everybody’s ass. Pull Me Off, New World Order, You Know You’re Soaking In It all just cook along, fantastic horn section and Stewart inviting people to take over vocals and punters only too keen to participate.
It is testament to their first single from 1985, that a room full of people still sing along at the top of their lungs even though it is about a SBS music presenter from the 80’s (Basia Bonkowski) who hasn’t been on air for close to thirty years. Eat Shit and Die precedes a new song called Holiday on Ice, and it’s classic Dockers fair (use your imagination). Half way through the set and it’s time to bring out the big guns. Mohawk baby, a great Soul Child and the invitation for women to join them on stage for one of my all time favourite songs All Men Are Bastards Except For Me. Much smiling and dancing on both sides of the stage.
Stewart tells us that the video for Die Yuppie Die was filmed the day of the financial crash in 1987. It is entirely possible they caused it. Like The Saints Know Your Product or TISM’s I’m Interested in Apathy, it is a fantastic song on it’s own, but the iconic horn section pumps it up and drives it to a whole other level, propelling the drama and bombast. I fucking love this song!
Several times tonight they are joined by Adelaide violinist Karen De Nardi. Stewart tells us that her last gig was with Bruce Springsteen and her next big gig is Lionel Richie and does a brief rendition of Three Times a Lady and giving us the inside scoop that Lionel is including his own version of Eat Shit Die on the pending tour. We scream along with You’re Going Home In the Back of a Divvy Van to the end of the set.
They return for their iconic cover of a song from 60’s spy comedy Get Smart. I know that sounds like I have been sampling some of those exotic substances I mentioned earlier, but it is true. In the Groovy Guru episode of Get Smart there is a psychedelic rock band (The Scared Cows) who are hypnotizing teenagers to commit crimes via their catchy songs. Dockers covered their song Kill Kill Kill on a rather good ep of covers in 1985. It also had brilliant covers of I Like It Both Ways (Supernaut), Rock’n’Roll Radio (The Ramones) and the aforementioned Know Your Product (The Saints). They finish up with the epic song about a boy who lost his jocks of Flinders Street station, called The Boy Who Lost His Jocks On Flinders Street Station.
Such a great night, such energy, so many fantastic songs.
DOCK ON LADS!
Review by Ian Bell
Betray Me With Your Kiss Pull Me Off (Bucket 1986)
New World Order (The Things That Matter 1994)
You Know You Are Soaking In It (Touch One Touch All 1989)
Basia (Love Planet 1984)
Eat Shit Die (Touch One Touch All 1989)
Holiday on Ice (new song)
Mohawk Baby (Love Planet 1984)
Soul Child (Bucket 1986)
All Men Are Bastards (Nervous 90’s Die Yuppie Die (Kiss my Art 1988)
Nude School (Kiss my Art 1988)
You’re Going Home in the Back of a Divvy Van Kill Kill Kill (Bucket 1986)
The Boy Who Lost His Jocks On Flinders Street Station (Love Planet 1984)