During COVID-19 lockdown in Melbourne, some reassessed their careers and lives, and many including our local music industry, were financially and emotionally crippled by the fallout. For some like Painter’s and Docker’s bassist Richard Bradbeer, lockdown gave him the idea of small venues curating nights at the Myer Music Bowl and with the assistance of the Arts Centre, his vision became a reality.
As part of the State government’s 17.2-million-dollar funding for the arts, Happy Mondays, Live at the Bowl celebrates live music in Melbourne, featuring two music venues curating two bands, held every Monday in February. Tonight, two iconic stalwart music venues, The Old Bar and The Tote come together to curate Cash Savage and the Last Drinks and The Meanies at the Bowl. The bowl is way under capacity, and metal decks line the grassed area, with seating for six people, something the music fans can appreciate: their own private box on the lawn!
As The Meanies make their way onto the stage, Link (Lindsay McLennan) takes in the metal lined vista, exclaiming “Well this is weird; Mad Max beyond Thunderdome. We’re The Meanies. We’re old but we’re still grouse,” and quickly launch into “Old car to Shangri-La,” followed by “All the Bought men” both off their latest release Desperate Measures. Special guest guitarist Ashley Naylor doesn’t miss a beat, keeping the frenetic pace with Ringo (Mark Hobbs) on drums and Wally (Roderick “Wally” Kempton) on bass. “Well, I’m buggered,” announces Link, and wryly waves goodbye, after their third song “There’s a Gap.”
“Never” features solid harmonies care of Link and Wally Meanie and Link regains his signature, thrashing dance moves after confessing “I’ve forgotten how to dance. Not that I knew how to dance in the first place.” The frenetic pace doesn’t abate, and old chestnuts, “Round in Circles”, “Gangrenous” sees the throng nod their heads in appreciation. “10% weird” is a crowd favourite and “Ton of Bricks” is punctuated by Link’s signature guttural scream.
As the clouds darken in the sky, holding back rain, Cash Savage and the Last Drinks take over the breadth of the stage, launching into “Fun in the Sun.” Cash Savage is a force to be reckoned with. She commands the stage, singing with depth and conviction. Accompanied by Joe White and Jess Zubkevych on guitar, Nick Finch on bass, Rene Mancuso on drums, Kat Mear on violin and Roshan Khozouei on keys, the sound is colossal and potent. “Thank you to the Old Bar and the Tote, The Arts Centre, and Melbourne Music Week. This is a bit of a dream. Don’t know what I’m going to dream about now?” states Savage.
“Pack Animals” resonates with many in the crowd. Savage wrote it about all the men that offered her unsolicited advice after seeing her play live. “Collapse” is dedicated to her daughter, a song that warns of violence in all its forms, police brutality against minority groups, domestic violence, and the refugees detained in Nauru and Manus Island.
“I don’t want to take this for granted. We’re in a room all together. It’s very nice to be here,” states Savage. The punters agree, grateful to be in the audience in support of our local musicians and their return to the stage.
Cash Savage and the Last Drinks continue playing their hits; “February”, “Human, I am” and “Good Citizens” and the throng are transfixed.
Whilst the Sidney Myer Music Bowl may look slightly different and the crowd numbers are down due to social distancing, nothing beats seeing two exceptional Melbourne bands live at the Bowl.