Sunday, November 14, 2004

Simon says you gotta do this / Simon says you gotta do that

Went to the Rising Sun in K Rd last night (I love that way, year in year out K Rd is the one reliable never changing Auckland vista....thankfully annual reports of its impending gentrification are always proven incorrect) to see The Scavengers do the reunion thing. Well kind of....

The Scavengers mutated over a few litres of bourbon into the poppier Marching Girls late 79 but this was hailed as the first Auckland Scavs gig for 26 years. That in itself was a stretch: firstly the endless Scavs farewell gig routine went well into 79; secondly The Scavengers, as The Marching Girls, toured these Isles several times in the eighties including quite an extensive jaunt in late 1980 to support the "True Love" / "First In Line" single I'd just released on Propeller; thirdly, the later day Scavengers were a trio of equal parts and Brendan "Ronnie Recent" Perry had other commitments and wasn't able to travel, understandably, the several thousand kilometers from Ireland for a one off gig in a pub in Ak's sleazy side.

So his shoes were filled by Dion from New Zealand's best rock'n'roll band, The D-4, and ( wasn't quite the same) adequately filled with accomplishment by a guy who admits his band owes sooo much to these guys. After the show someone asked him if it was as good as singing with the MC5...Dion said the Scavengers meant far more as this was his history, the MC5 were just an American band he was heavily influenced by, and he's right.

The show itself...short (12 3 minute songs), anthem filled (I was touched to be the only person to get a song dedicated to them), and loud (vastly better sound than I've ever heard the Scavs...we used to throw the vocals thru the guitar amp back then), but Mike "Lesbian" Simons' duet with Dion on "Mysterex", a song written in spite about Mike after he left the band to pursue a globally very successful advertising career (someone asked him if he regreted leaving.........) made the show something more than just an old rock'n'roll band reuniting and just about compensated for Brendan's absence.

Thing is though, it wasn't just an old rock'n'roll band reuniting, it goes so much beyond that. When The Scavs came together out of the Ib Darlings at ATI, and Jimmy, Billy, Zero & I formed the Suburban Reptiles at the tail end of 76, it wasn't with any great vision in mind, that part of it was accidental, it was simply an inadvertent part of a global desire to de-bloat popular music. None of us, when we formed these bands had heard much of this stuff (I had a Ramones album but you simply couldn't buy any punk in NZ until mid 77), I guess we knew things simply had to change. For me I wasn't as offended by the British prog rock thing, at least it had some sense of its own style, as I was by the post Warner-Elektra-Asylum-Little Feat-Steely Dan mush. Beautifully played, emotionally devoid, FM rawk.

That's why we existed, it wasn't to ape the Sex Pistols, who we really hadn't heard but to knock down this status quo. Which is why the first gigs we sought out for the Reps and the Scavs was supporting these sorts of bands and taking our 20 or so supporters in to cause a little mayhem at clubs like Moody Richards in Airedale St.

And you know, I'm more than a little proud of our legacy. And more than a little grateful to John Baker and Simon Kay for being so passionate about preserving the legacy.

S'funny though, looking at the crowd last night...about 60% young and 40% fucking polite they all were, with the young posse trying to do the pogo thang they'd seen on the DVDs ( don't think I'd really seen pogo-ing in NZ until after AK79, a record which opened the punk floodgates here but really was the obituary of the original's release signaled punk's demise, in Auckland at least). The only abuse the band got... and 25 years ago they would have been mercilessly heckled, and would have expected it.. came from the Reptiles' bassist, Billy Planet, standing next to me.

Someone had to do it......

But the real action last night was the extended after show in the public Casino bar next door. After parties are sometimes better than the gig. A mix of relaxed and aging faces who haven't really seen each other for well over twenty years, and gobsmacked twenty somethings with records to sign.

It was, more or less, a class reunion, a private members club, the punk elite RSA, gathering for one last time, because it won't happen again. We know things that others will never know and we did things that made a difference. Comrades in arms. There were missing faces, a few dead of course, but not many, surprisingly, considering the hedonism of the times. And cameras everywhere.

Fuck me, I had a great time, and fittingly the last to leave were John Baker, Simon Kay, Johnny, Des, Billy Planet and myself.


Anonymous said...

Hi Simon

Dunno if u have checked out the photos of the Scav's show at yet?

Andrew (Jonathan & Nancy's brother)

Simon said...

Indeed I have Andrew...been trying email JT too without much response