The admittance of a folk punk band into Hamer Hall probably best illustrates just how gentrified our once rebellious bands have become these days. Undoubtedly it’s a great venue in terms of acoustics, especially now that the venue has been revamped, but you just don’t envision punk rock bands playing there. For one, the venue allows for seated gigs only, and secondly when you think Hamer Hall, you think orchestras.
So, either the bands themselves are mellowing or the fans are more appreciative of a place to sit? It could also be that Hamer Hall booking agents are taking a big risk? In the punter’s mind the choice of allowing the Violent Femmes to play in the home of the cultured arty farty set paid dividends because we got the full package. There was the acknowledgement that the ‘Femmes’ have become classic in terms of the band’s contribution to music culture. We got seats to rest our weary legs when necessary, and the management of Hamer Hall allowed dancing in the aisles (yes you heard right) when the urge overtook us. We kind of understand that some gigs still aren’t set up to be played in posh venues, but somehow the Violent Femmes in Hamer Hall worked.
The music also worked, with Gordon Gano (vocals, guitar, composing) Brian Ritchie (bass) and John Sparrow (drums) singing and playing as well as they ever have. Their love for Australia showed in the enthusiasm in which they approached each of the songs in their twenty-three-song set. From the get go they introduced their anthemic numbers, rather than leaving the most popular music till the end. ‘Blister in the Sun ‘ was the second song. For a minute we thought we would hear ‘Gimme the Car’ but Gano was just teasing, and with a chord change the band launched into perhaps their most representative song. The set was sprinkled with newer music, and as the guys worked their very professional way through their mammoth list, the love for the band concentrated and burst into energetic movement and singing. By the time the Violent Femmes got to ‘I Held Her in my Arms’, ‘Gone Daddy Gone’ and ‘Add it Up’, the fans were on their feet and chairs were redundant.
The three song encore held all the promise of a band here for the long haul, with a future as least as prolific and entertaining as its past. ‘Memory’, ‘American Music’ and ‘Kiss Off’ left us wanting more and awaiting the band’s next visit. Let’s hope that the tour called ‘Australia All Over’ refers to the number of gigs they will play here. We certainly wouldn’t want anything to be all over in any other sense of the word.