Died Pretty + Radio Birdman: Live review | The Tivoli | Friday 23 June

Friday saw a heaving Tivoli play host to two iconic Aussie bands, who may sit at somewhat different ends of the musical spectrum stylistically, but who both share a fiercely independent spirit and a rabidly appreciative long term fan base.

This tour has been afforded joint-headliner status, so as the houselights dim at 8:45pm, it’s the turn of the much revered Radio Birdman to step up first and deliver a typically smashing set of no-holds-barred, Detroit-infused garage rock par excellence. Their frantic take on classic Thirteenth Floor Elevators track You’re Gonna Miss Me, followed by Do The Pop and Crying Sun, sets the bar high early on. Rob Younger (who produced a fair swathe of Died Pretty’s early recorded output) conducts and contorts with aplomb out front, while to his left trusty lead guitar sidekick Deniz ‘iceman’ Tek effortlessly peels off riff after blazing riff, ably supported by Dave Kettley, who replaced original rhythm guitarist Chris Masuak in the line-up in 2014. While every track is rapturously received, inevitably it’s set closer New Race and encore opener Aloha Steve and Danno that induce the greatest audience delirium. And with their emphatic final number, The Stooges TV Eye, another triumphant chapter in the ongoing legacy of this evergreen band has again been written.

While following in such hallowed footsteps may daunt a band of lesser pedigree, Died Pretty prove well up to the task, effortlessly winning over the room from the get-go. Diminutive in stature he may be, but vocalist Ron Peno is an utterly captivating presence throughout, his unique, shape throwing contortions perfectly channelling the bands moody and melodic sound. Guitarist and backing vocalist Brett Myers is a fabulous co-conduit, whether it be via the perfect pop stylings of Harness Up, or art-rock channeling guitar freakouts, such as the epic conclusion to brilliant set closer Winterland. Other highlights include the punchy Stops And Starts, a rousing take on fan fave Sweetheart and keyboard driven gems D.C and Godbless. 

The only sour part of tonight’s twin triumph occurs during the encore, when something tossed from the audience onto the stage (a leftover drink maybe) causes Peno’s demeanor to sour markedly, berating the culprit before the band depart in somewhat subdued circumstances. However this can’t take away from the band’s triumphant and expansive set, closing the curtain on a reverential night of seminal Australian music. Long may both bands continue to blaze and burn in their autumn years.

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