Review Scene: Pandemonium, Caribbean Gardens, 20th April 2024, by Maryanne Window

BLONDIE by Mary Boukouvalas
Pandemonium rocks 2024
Saturday April 20
Caribbean Gardens ScoresbyWe all know of the controversy surrounding this event – the business side of things really lived up to its name right up to the eleventh hour IYKYK as the kids say. However – I’m not going to dwell on that or the seven stages of grief I went through in the week prior. I arrived at the Caribbean Gardens site having reached the acceptance stage and was open to whatever experience unfolded.
I arrived in time for Wheatus, the bucket hat wearing indie pop sensations who have been dubbed by the press as a 90s one hit wonder band. Despite this reputation preceding them, the songs surrounding their big finisher “Teenage Dirtbag” were solid. They had a great positive energy that was infectious and definitely had the crowed up and moving.

Having reduced the two stage format down to a single stage, I was anticipating long and arduous changeovers but UK new wavers Psychedelic Furs were up and running in no time. Front man Richard Butler looked as suave as ever as he wooed the crowd with classics from their hey day of the ‘80s the band sounded fabulous. Brother and co-founder Tim Butler forged a mighty rhythm section with acclaimed drummer Zach Alford and world renowned keyboardist Amanda Kramer recreated their signature melodies together with relative newcomer guitarist Rich Good who joined when the band reunited in 2000. Nostalgia was top of the menu today and the Furs didn’t deprive the crowd of the daily specials. “Love My Way” was an early set highlight and the crowd favourite “Pretty in Pink” which became the signature tune of the movie it inspired was what the majority came to hear. New songs from their 2020 release “Made of Rain” sat comfortably in the set proving that this band is still a creative force.

BLONDIE by Mary Boukouvalas

New York punk rockers Blondie may only have two original members in their ranks currently but boy did they sure deliver the musical goods this evening. Debbie Harry has not let age weary her, nor has she let it diminish her punk rock attitude. Vocally she was fabulous and hit all the high notes with a physical presence that was strong and defiant.  Clem Burke one of the best drummers of the punk rock era was a powerhouse as he spearheaded the rhythm section with veteran punk rocker Glen Matlock on bass.

BLONDIE by Mary Boukouvalas

As a Sex Pistol, Matlock was probably the most accomplished musician and songwriter among them and he was playing all the parts with gusto while managing to slip in a few homages to his previous legacy. The hits just kept coming, recalling the days of 1422 3XY when they ruled the Melbourne airwaves. Even the casual fans who may never have ever bought a Blondie album knew the bulk of the songs in the set. Edgy pop rock classics from the Nerves cover “Hanging on the Telephone”, to “Call Me”, “Rapture”, “Atomic” and their more recent hit “Maria”, were all perfect inclusions in the set. Every song was a highlight in this set but in particular it was great to hear “Will Anything Happen” and “Dreaming” in the live format. Seriously worth the price of admission (too soon?).

Alice Cooper by Mary Boukouvalas

The most lengthy break in transmission was next as Alice Cooper’s elaborate set up was put in place. Anyone who has seen Alice Cooper before will know what I’m talking about but for those who were seeing him for the first time, it was worth the wait. Dual stair cases, a guillotine , a live python a giant Frankenstein were all in the mix as he commanded the stage. Emerging from the wings in his signature top hat and psychotic clown face makeup, we were welcomed to his nightmare well and truly. “No More Mr Nice Guy”, “I’m Eighteen” and “Billion Dollar Babies” whipped the crowd into a frenzy before launching into my personal favourite “Department of Youth” with Alice swapping his original shout out to Donnie Osmond with Taylor Swift. Alice is moving with the times! “Snakebite” featured a live carpet python wrapped around his torso with slithering tongue creating a menacing presence on the big screen and assuring us that yes, this was indeed a real live snake ladies and gentleman. Therese were devils horns being thrown everywhere you looked and as the more hair metals MTV era tunes entered the arena, speed metal guitarist extraordinaire Nita Strauss thrilled the crowd. Alice Cooper really did own the night tonight and proved himself as one of the best front men in the business. Closing the night with the encore “School’s Out” was Alice’s way of sending us all off into the night after a sensational musical and theatrical extravaganza.

Alice Cooper by Mary Boukouvalas

For all the negativity and apprehension, Pandemonium turned out to be a great event! If you get the chance to go in the other states do it. Don’t be put off by the stuffing around in the lead up because the bands were great. In the words of that other hat wearing musical icon, “do yourself a favour!”

About Maryanne Window 50 Articles
Maryanne is a writer and bass player. You can find her onstage with Monique Brumby.