Monday, 18 May 2015

Dave Wright & the Midnight Electric @ the Brunswick Hotel, 16 May 2015

At 2:30 pm this afternoon I received a text message from Dave Wright of Dave Wright and the Midnight Electric. Here's what it read:
That was a pretty good show on Saturday, huh?
It seemed a bit rhetorical so I took it as the closest you'll get to an acknowledgment from the man himself that Saturday's show at the Brunswick Hotel was, in fact, a scorching success. Instead of replying privately via text I'll respond here:
Yes, Dave, you and the boys put on a pretty good show on Saturday. A completely revamped setlist, a never-before-played song called 'Sweet Caroline', and enough energy onstage to get everyone dancing. INCLUDING MY SORRY ASS. That, boy-o, is either a minor miracle or the result of too much Jack Daniels. And I went light on the JD on Saturday.

Regular readers of this blog will think I'm either on the DWME payroll or borderline obsessed with this band but Saturday's show was fucking spectacular. Not pyrotechnics and massive video screens and 60,000 attendees spectacular -- sticky carpet and good beer and Saturday-without-a-care-crowd spectacular. At one point in the evening I found myself smiling one of those smiles that only happens at Springsteen concerts. One that surprises me each time. Without getting new age-y it's just pure release: my brain's not running the show, my soul is. Maybe that's what's driven me to see Springsteen close to 100 times, a moment when my consciousness has to call attention to an unusual situation by brashly pointing out, 'Hey asshole ... you're happy.' Of course other things make this happen but when it's music, it matters more.

There's a song Springsteen wrote about his mother back in the late '80s called 'The Wish'. I'm pretty sure it took him over 10 years to release it (on 1998's Tracks) because it's about the most personal song he's ever penned. No bravado, no role playing, just Bruce singing about his mum and her importance to his career. A pair of lines from the song have been running through my head since Saturday's show at the 'Brunny':
I got my hot rod down on Bond Street, I'm older but you'll know me in a glance
We'll find us a little rock 'n roll bar and baby we'll go out and dance
Bruce was famous for hopping in his car and heading down to a Jersey shore juke joint when the mood struck, when he wanted to 'be where the bands are.' There IS glory to be found in a rockin' band in a warm room, alone or in a crowd of friends. No spectacle, no obscenely priced tickets, no hoopla. Just a band you and your baby can dance to on a Saturday night.

I'm lucky to have visited one such room, the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, many dozens of times, sometimes to see a big-name act, sometimes wandering off the boardwalk on a cold night for a beer and a band. The 'Brunny' has a similar feel, and with DWME on its stage I felt transported.

I'm starting to think my appreciation for DWME stems not only from their brilliant collection of songs and musicianship but an ability to turn whatever venue they're playing into the likes of the Pony. Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes were the Pony's original house band in the mid-70s but I hesitate to compare DWME to them because ... well ... Johnny only sings. Miami Steve Van Zandt wrote their best songs and didn't stick around long before becoming Springsteen's consigliere in the E Street Band. Southside's gone through an army of sidemen ever since, but deep down wishes he could write a song as good as Dave Wright. Many years later Southside and the Jukes remain a force on stage but don't travel to the Southern hemisphere, so I've missed them since moving to Australia.

With another DWME show to look forward to Sat 6 June at the Yarra Hotel in Abbottsford, however, I don't actually miss 'em at all.

If "there ain't nothing more honest than pub rock in Melbourne" as Dave said introducing a monstrous version of 'The Lucky Country', then he and the lads brought great truth to the 'Brunny' on this night. 

Susan and Veronica, a coupla serious rock and roll chicks.

Banjo man Rob Barber.

You'd be forgiven thinking this band's played dozens of shows together but in fact Saturday's show was only the third with drummer Aled Templeton. Dave's grin in this photo speaks volumes about the young man's chops.

On a personal note it was a special night for yours truly as my wife (right) caught her first DWME show. It shan't be her last. I was also surprised by the appearance of close friends Kathryn and Paddy who made the trip despite Kathryn being under the weather. Bloody legends.

Saturday's set list:

Set 1:
Dust On The Wind
Coming Home
The Spitting Image
Save It For A Rainy Day
Sweet Caroline (Live debut)
Under The Milky Way
Life In A Northern Town

Set 2:
Classic Cars
Streets Of This Town
Railway Song
Only 19
The Lucky Country
Atlantic City
Hang Me High
Drinking Days
Take Me Out


'The words of the prophet were written on a Brunswick Hotel bathroom wall .....'

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