Violent Femmes @ The Shed Review

Published in Music News  
Violent Femmes Violent Femmes Image © Marc Austin-Zande
It’s only been a year since all-American, indie-rock trio Violent Femmes last toured Australia.

But this time they played a lot of regional shows, including The Shed (1 April) on the Sunshine Coast. Yes, this extensive tour is taking in some not-so-common Australian scenery and Sunshine Coast fans certainly showed their appreciation as the show sold-out very quickly.

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Femmes bassist Brian Ritchie introduced the support act Rayella, an indigenous father-daughter duo from the Northern Territory.

Ritchie, a resident of Tasmania for almost ten years, first heard the duo in 2014 at the Alice Springs Bush Band Bash and was determined to take them on tour, showcasing what he says is the beauty of Aboriginal music and culture. Rayella played to a large crowd who warmed to their music and certainly showed their appreciation.

Rayella - image © Marc Austin-Zande

As the crowd built for the main course, there were generations of punks, rockers and surfers filling The Shed. There were some young punters, but I’d say most of the crowd were in their 40s and 50s.

From the first note the crowd was engaged, their ears owned by Gordon Gano’s familiar voice, Brian Ritchie’s bass and relative newcomer, John Sparrow’s brushes.

Violent Femmes - image © Marc Austin-Zande

The venue's air-conditioning managed well with the heat generated by 1,100 bodies dancing to new material from the band’s recent release, 'We Can Do Anything', and a selection of their back catalogue.

Midway through the show, Rayella were invited back on stage to perform a song with The Femmes, a special moment not lost on the audience. The trio really showed great enthusiasm towards Raymond and Eleanor and, for a moment, something extra special poured from the stage.

Violent Femmes - image © Marc Austin-Zande

Then it was back to the trio. Actually, that’s not fair at all, not fair on the three brass players who backed the band on many songs. Ritchie introduced them to the audience as Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra members.

There’s also the matter of the guitar tech who joined the band on stage for the classic 'Gone Daddy Gone', picking up the bass while Ritchie played the vibes.

Violent Femmes - image © Marc Austin-Zande

We were treated to so many Violent Femmes classics: 'Jesus Walking On The Water', 'American Music', 'Gimme The Car', 'Country Death Song' and many others filling almost 90-minutes of great music and great fun before the band thanked the crowd and exited the stage.

But wait, something was missing. And then it was time. They had arguably saved the best to last, an encore that was set to ignite the crowd even beyond what had already happened.

Violent Femmes - image © Marc Austin-Zande

Yes, an encore of 'Blister In The Sun' and 'Add It Up' where the sound of 1,100 voices filled the room, singing, shouting those all-too-familiar lyrics that I guess many in the room have known and loved for more than 30 years. It was a veritable moshpit in the core of the crowd.

Was this the same band I saw in 1984? Well yes and no. Ritchie and Gano are there and the music is there, but I am sure the decades have tightened every note, every chord, every beat. I guess we should be grateful too that they're still playing together after a somewhat acrimonious legal battle over song rights and royalties.

Yes, it’s unmistakably them but more polished than the post-punk buskers singing about teenage self-doubt and not getting laid.

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