OK, I must start this review with a disclaimer. I am individual 118 of the Sunnyboys fan club, and have played with and seen the Celibate Rifles perform since the early to mid 1980s, so yes I love both bands.
Twin Town was packed with old friends over many decades, a lot of grey hair brimming with enthusiasm for the night that was to come.
The Celibate Rifles took to what I believe is the best venue stages to play on around the Gold Coast, and were ready to roll – and began to rock straight away. The laconic wit of Damien Lovelock was there for all to hear as he was in fine form: “We are going to play some songs from our favourite Australian band, the Celibate Rifles” he said with a wry smile, and even regaled the crowd with stories of the good old Jet Club at Coolangatta. By the show of hands more than 50% of the audience had frequented the club with the lit studio 54 dance floor back in the 1980s.
The Celibate Rifles as always, put on a great show; a different set with some old classics. ‘Killing Time’, an ode to Australian settlement was on point, there was ‘Kenny the Head’, my favourite, ‘Back in the Red’, and they wrapped up the set with their song which has the most YouTube hits (5 million plus), ‘Bill Bonney Regrets’. It’s been a while since they have played that one.
The man in tights, (and with the most unusual guitar playing style) Kent Steedman was also in fine form, ripping through lead break after lead break. The rhythm section was cooking, Paul always solid as a rock, and Dave kept the whole thing full and together.
The Celibate Rifles were a hard act to follow, as they have been for the last 30 years. It was pretty cool they covered the Lipstick Killers song, ‘Hindu Gods’, seeing that the first ever recorded gig the Sunnyboys played was supporting the Lipstick Killers.
Then the Beatles ‘Here Comes the Sun’ blared through the PA system, and a roar ensued through the crowd. Thousands of friends from over 37 years of The Sunnyboys touring to the Gold Coast were about to become one. The Sunnyboys started with two songs from their first ever EP, ‘What You Need’ and ‘Love to Rule’. There was no new album to promote, and thus it was to be a giant trip down memory lane with Jeremy Oxley’s songs of love, tears and teenage angst. And even though there was probably only a handful of teenagers in the audience, for an hour and a half everyone became one again.
Guitarist Richard Burgman was in fine form, leading on the microphone regaling the days of the Jet Club, The Patch, The Playroom, and Bombay Rock.
Drummer Bill Bilson was simply amazing, drumming as well or even better than he ever has. In ‘Happy Man’ he was on fire, every tap and every drum roll done to perfection, and his partner in rhythm section crime, Peter Oxley, was solid as a rock on bass and backing vocals. Bill and Peter are the pumping heart of The Sunnyboys, and the heart is that of a teenage athlete.
Jeremy Oxley’s vocals are improving with every Sunnyboys gig I see. Jeremy Oxley’s battle with mental health is well documented, and check out the documentary ‘The Sunnyboy’ to see the whole story. It will bring a tear to your eye, and it gives you a whole new insight when you see them gig.
Jeremy Oxley was still pulling out some great leads, but has handed over the reigns to Richard Burgman on some songs, and seemed to enjoy the songs ‘The Seeker’ and ‘Gone’ as a lead singer with no guitar. Also the introduction of a keyboard player filled the sound wonderfully.
At times the room resembled a wrestling match with group hugs everywhere, and many of the patrons – including myself – had hoarse throats from the hour and a half duration sing-a-long. It was a great gig, and there was so much love in the room. After the Sunnyboys left the stage, the song through the PA summed it all up – The Beatles again, but this time it was ‘All You Need is Love’. Yep, that’s right, and some good music…
IMAGES (c) Leigh Kelly