I came for the Whip It, but I stayed for the Don’t You (Forget About Me). Well, not exactly. Anyway... the line up at St Kilda’s Palais Theatre on Friday night was pretty amazing. Certainly a double header to remember... Devo and Simple Minds? On the same bill? Outrageous.
Opening the show was The Church – arguably Australia’s second greatest ever band. I can say this because I have all their records and because the guitarists’ daughter just added me on Facebook. Needless to say, the first and only time I’ve seen them up until now was at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, and this was their first visit to Melbourne in ages. Over the course of their short but sweet allocated 30 minutes, ran through such songs as Almost With You, an incredible extended version of Reptile, and Under The Milky Way. Classic tunes.
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Next up was Devo. I first got into Devo through Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Total Control etc) who told me that they were the greatest band of all time. At the time I had no idea just how big of an impact they’ve had on the rock and roll landscape, and discovering their records for the first time was a pretty big deal. They really are one of the great bands, and so I was pretty excited to see them play.
Opening the set with Don’t Shoot (I’m A Man), a cut from their latest record ‘Something For Everybody’, the band was dressed in grey uniform with plastic face masks. They looked unreal. The whole band performed lined up across the face of the stage, with Gerald Casale on bass synth (and later bass) and lead vocalist Mark Mothersbaugh* front and centre. From then on it was a total hit parade as they mined their extensive back catalogue. What We Do! Girl U Want! (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction! There were costume changes (the trademark Energy Dome came out around the time of Whip It), choreographed dance moves, an incredible video display. A feast for the senses! The highlight of the set was Mongoloid - their debut single released in 1977.
*Fun fact: MM composed the Rugrats theme song.
Up next... Jim Kerr and his band of merry men... Simple Minds! Kerr was expectedly immaculately dressed – suit jacket, scarf (it would have been 35 degrees in there), and right from the first song (1980’s I Travel) belted out the vocals like no one’s business. As usual with seated venues, there’s always that awkward “hmm, should we stand? Should we sit?” situation. And that carried on for about 5 songs. Some people stood... but not enough to make it not weird for me to stand. Anyway, the hits came thick and fast... The American, Someone Somewhere In Summertime, and favourite Don’t You (Forget About Me) all sounded great. Mel Gaynor’s drums were deafening loud, but spot on the beat, meanwhile keyboardist Andy Gillespie is the most handsome man rock and roll. Set closer Alive And Kicking finally got everyone out of their seats.
Line ups like The Church, Devo and Simple Minds don’t come along too often. It really was a fantastic night of music... witnessing three incredibly influential bands one stage (with 20 minute toilet breaks in between) really is the most economical way to have your mind blown. And I love a saving!