The Charles Hotel, Perth, Western Australia
Saturday 24 August 2013
Reviewed & photographed by Shane Pinnegar
He may now reside in Sydney and write screenplays and novels rather than songs, but to many in WA he will always be The Boy From Bicton, leader of The Suburban Army and the genius behind hilarious tales of Zongo, Sharon & Derek and Suburban Rock.
He is Dave Warner and his band From The Suburbs perfectly sums up what he’s all about – to quote one of his songs, ‘a beer, a barbecue and a steak that bends.’
He’s also the best Australian songwriter you might’ve never heard, and tonight’s sell-out crowd (his second at the venue in six months) proves he was years ahead of his time at virtually every stage of his career, and an enormous influence directly and indirectly on just about anyone who has since sung about Australian suburbanity with respect and affection.
Warner and his band – including guitarist Martin Cilia, who earlier played a blistering opening set with his band of surf guitar instrumentals including Dick Dale’s Miserlou and The Atlantics’ (with whom he also plays and records) Bombora, original guitarist Tony Durant and guest bass player on several songs, from Skyhooks, Greg Macainsh – play two sets packed with favourites (Australian Heat, Convict Streak, Campus Days, Big Bad Sexual Drive, U.K. Euchred, Hot Crotch, Girls Wank, Half-Time At The Football and more) and deep cuts (Barcelona, John Arlott Makes Me Chuckle, Silver) that have rarely seen a live outing much less got a guernsey on his 5 albums.
Warner’s songs, then as now, seem simpler than they are – possibly since they cover seemingly mundane topics, touching on us as “normal Australians”, who have families and friends, like a beer and the footy, and have normal worries and pleasures. This may explain why Warner seems to be largely overlooked in the history books of Australian music and on radio, but just as that “show about nothing” – Seinfeld – became one of the most popular sitcoms of all time by poking fun at trivial day to day things, so too has Dave Warner’s music changed lives and brought validation not only to individuals, but to any Australian after 1978 who felt like singing in their own voice, about the things that mattered to them no matter how trivial they may seem to others.
The Suburbs could easily have played another set of great songs that would have had the packed house singing along – Car Park, Monster’s Back, Strange Night, A Million Miles From Home and more – but no-one went home disappointed, no-one got bored and left early, and no-one – no-one at all – will miss Warner when he comes back for another show.
About the Author: Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE