Gig Scene: Mental As Anything – The Caravan Club, August 9th 2015

Winter in Melbourne can be chilly and bleak, and even the most upbeat of us can suffer from a bad case of S.A.D. unless we make a real effort to get out there and be a part of the human race. Thank goodness Sunday rock in the ‘burbs is alive and kicking along just fine, thank you very much! We don’t have to travel far in inclement weather to experience some top-notch music and have a brilliant time.

Martin Plaza. Photo by Mandy Hall.
Martin Plaza. Photo by Mandy Hall.

And so many music pilgrims headed off to one of the best suburban venues, The Caravan Club, to see the perennially popular Mental As Anything play a set of hits as long as your arm.

This band has a very loyal following which was proven by the sold-out gig, and in fact, the show sold-out in super fast time. The Mentals first got together in 1976 at art school in Sydney, and while the band has only two original members these days, they’ve still got what it takes to draw a crowd and to get fans onto the dance floor.

Greedy Smith. Photo by Mandy Hall.
Greedy Smith. Photo by Mandy Hall.

Looking every bit like Wally (of Where’s Wally fame), Greedy Smith infused the set with fun, drinking cup after cup of tea and playing keyboards with exaggerated gestures that showed he was having a good time. Martin Plaza has lost none of his fine and unusual vocal qualities over the years and so the songs we remember sound just as good as they did twenty or more years ago. Three other, very adept musicians joined these two stalwarts of the band. Martin Cilia (guitar, vocals), formerly of The Flying Fonzarellis, Dave Warner and The Atlantics managed to create the guitar sounds that made us immediately recognise the Mentals hits. Jacob Cook (drums) ably provided the back beat and James Gillard (bass, vocals), who looks a lot like Bob Hawke, fit into the present incarnation of the band like he’d always been there.

It was a buzz to hear so many hits come to life in a venue as intimate as The Caravan Club. Some punters at the back of the room complained about the sound, but those at the front got the best of it and were hell-bent on having fun. ‘Mister Natural’, ‘You’re So Strong’, ‘Live It Up’ and ‘The Nips Are Getting Bigger’ brought back times spent in bars with sticky carpets, car park brawls and underage drinkers.

Mental As Anything. Photo by Mandy Hall.

How much fun can you have on a cold Sunday afternoon? Well, if we all saw a show of this calibre every Sunday, the answer is simple…an absolute shitload.

See the photo gallery.

About Sharon Brookes 71 Articles
Sharon is a freelance music journalist with 20 years experience writing for street press, web publications and blogs. She specialises in reviewing gigs, books, CD’s, and theatre productions.

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