Ed Kuepper is not just a talented musician, but also a Brisbane institution.
With that in mind, Brisbane Festival presented Ed Kuepper and his band The Aints playing the classics of his former band The Saints at The Tivoli Theatre (27 September) in celebration of their 40th anniversary and place in Brisbane’s music history.
After a quick welcome, Ed and his backing band started with the bang of ‘(This) Perfect Day’. Along with guitar duties Ed sings lead vocals, replacing original singer Chris Bailey’s sneer with his deep drawl.
Ed’s voice is buried in the mix most of the night, but his riffing and The Sunnyboys’ Peter Oxley’s bass give the songs some muscle.
This is the first show for The Aints playing tracks from The Saints’ first three albums, and the stiffness shows early on.
But the band is suitably warmed up by the strangest track of the night, ‘Prehistoric Sounds’ deep-cut ‘The Chameleon’. Featuring organ swirls from Alister Spence and a brass section, the song is a slow, slightly psychedelic number that Ed’s voice drips like honey over. It’s a surprise for those more familiar with the faster punk songs, but fans showed great love for this obscurity.
After a flubbed beginning to ‘Swing For The Crime’ and Ed’s admittance they’re not as tight a band yet, the performers try again this time nailing the difficult tune.
The band make up for it with the announcement they’ll tackle some unrecorded tracks, to the excited squeals of fans. “You’re the first people to hear these since my neighbours in Oxley in 1974,” Ed deadpanned. All three tracks would’ve been fine additions to their albums, especially the towering horns and guitar of ‘Red Aces’.
The Aints energy emerged when they took on ‘Nights In Venice’. It’s an explosion of punk-rock fury, leading to Ed’s strumming hand blurring as he attacked his guitar and unleashed a wave of raw rock & roll.
While fans are older, they became wild upon the first note of the classic ‘(I’m) Stranded’, immediately rocking heads and thrashing as they would’ve decades ago.
After giving his horn section cheek, Ed led the crowd through a chant of the famous horn riff of ‘Know Your Product’ with fans still chanting the riff throughout.
There are probably bands who deliver tighter versions of these songs. But while The Aints aren’t them, they instead kept the punk flame burning by playing wild and loose, which is exactly how it should be.