Thursday, 15 October 2015

Dave Wright & the Midnight Electric @ Yarra Hotel, 3 Oct 2015

George Orwell once wrote 'To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle.' Prescient words from the man who predicted our current age of omnipresent surveillance, but who could not have foreseen that struggle extending to shared digital environments where people yearn for things that may, in fact, be just in front of their noses.

Case in point: This meme (left). It pops up every few months on Facebook. At first glance it's classic Old People Hate New Things. The former lead singer and lyricist for Led Zeppelin is now 67 years old and collaborating with artists from around the world on critically acclaimed projects but his Zep days linger as a benchmark against which Kanye West, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, et al don't measure up. Never mind that Zep was lambasted by contemporary critics, particularly those employed by Rolling Stone in the days the magazine packed considerable cultural heft. For people raised on '70s FM radio Robert Plant was and will forever be a Rock God from a musical era steeped in freedom, exploration, brazenness, booze, drugs, wild hair and silk shirts that's as similar to today's music industry as brick-sized portable phones of the '70s to today's iPhones. An era to be romanticised, mourned, abandoned to the dustbin of nostalgia.

Except it isn't.

There it was. All of it. In the moody front room of the Yarra Hotel a couple Saturdays ago. A gang of musicians with day jobs dreaming big. Original tunes sung with full-throated passion. Tales of characters true to this time and this place. A camaraderie between band and audience borne of shared struggle. All of it. Right there. Maybe this is what is was like when Zep was playing grubby halls throughout the English countryside, or Springsteen in shitholes up and down the East Coast. Am I comparing Dave Wright and the Midnight Electric to Led Zeppelin and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band? Of course not. I'm pointing out how many self-described music junkies are overcome by the haze of nostalgia and too intoxicated to comprehend the rock and roll majesty in their own fucking grasp, up close, free of industry smoke and mirrors. Affordable. Fun. Heartfelt. The real motherfucking deal.

Do you hate soulless, talent-show dreck?

Do you yearn for music that speaks to you, your life, your country, your struggle, your dreams?

It's right there, people. All you gotta do is reach out and grab it.

Here's some more photos from the Yarra show. DWME will play its final headline gig of 2015 at the bizarre Zep-themed Whole Lotta Love in East Brunswick on Saturday, 7 November. After that the boys are opening for Mick Thomas at the Spotted Mallard on 18 December. Dave is quick to pronounce Mick Thomas's Weddings, Parties, Anything as a major influencer of his songwriting style, so opening one of Thomas's Christmas shows is both an honour and opportunity for DWME to strut their stuff before a legend of Aussie rock.

You should come along.

Dave dons a mouth harp.

Rock-God-In-His-Own-Right Rob Barber.

Drummer Neil Salmon.

Dave and bassist Tim Cav.

Keyboardist Daryl Johnson flashes a smile beneath a Bakersfield hat.

Trombonist extraordinaire John Bryant takes a breather during Anthony Foon's trumpet solo.

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