LIVE: ROSE TATTOO – Fremantle, 16 Feb 2018

LIVE: ROSE TATTOO – Fremantle, 16 Feb 2018
Metropolis Fremantle; Friday, 16 February, 2018
Supported by Ragdoll & Legs Electric
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Photography by Peter Gardner

On paper, Angry Anderson has assembled the best damn line-up of Rose Tattoo there’s been, at least since the great Pete Wells passed in 2006. But not even Dai Pritchard, Mark Evans (AC/DC, Tice & Evans), Bob Spencer (Skyhooks, The Angels) and Peter Heckenburg (subbing at late notice for John ‘Watto’ Watson) could pull the rabbit out of the hat when Angry, apparently three sheets to the wind, failed to lead from the front.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m no wowser. I’ll give most people a run for their money in the drink-too-much-and-say-inappropriate-shit stakes. But – and it breaks my heart to write this – this show was a mess.

It all went pear-shaped before the band played a note. After spirited sets from Ragdoll and Legs Electric – both of whom have what it takes to win a crowd over, but both of which need an outside producer to help massage their originals into more memorable songs in the studio – the room was primed and ready for a night of high octane outlaw rock and roll. The band took their places, and it seemed about to go off like a frog in a sock… then Anderson strode on with that glint in his eye.

You know the one. We’ve seen it a thousand times when someone’s had too much to drink and they think they’re being mischievous and funny, but they’re just being bloody obnoxious. He grabbed three unopened bottles of water and threw them one by one into the crowd. “I’m not gonna be needing this… I’m not gonna be needing this… I’m not gonna be needing this…” then, unprompted, made the first of a series of ill-advised rants, whilst a couple of his bandmates looked on with what may have been disapproval, or just trepidation at where this was going.

One Of The Boys was rough. Not raw and visceral rock n’ roll rough – rough as guts and twice as bad. The band weren’t gelling at all. Another pause, another swig from a bottle, more random, slurred babble from Anderson. The band did their best – Juice On The Loose shed a few sparks; Assault & Battery was fierce, though shambolic – but more often they’re flat, five guys jamming without connection or direction.

By halfway through it seemed about to collapse in a heap. Branded was a dispirited dirge, Anderson leaning on the mic stand for support, tonelessly incanting the words in a near-monotone as if his hangover had suddenly kicked in. Worse than the obnoxious rants, for this song and the usually-mighty Scarred For Life Rose Tattoo actually seemed like they were barely going through the motions. I never thought I’d say that about this band, my favourite since 1982.

At this point Anderson switches from wine to beer and perks up a little. Bad Boy For Love shows a couple of flashes of the brilliance that should have been there for the whole set, but is dragged out for five extra, unnecessary minutes of repetitious boogie, and the less said about the flat We Can’t Be Beaten, the better. Nice Boys generates a little electricity with snippets of Blue Suede Shoes and Lucille, but it’s the last song of the night and the band finally sounding like they’re almost on the same page now is just too little too late.

We’re used to Anderson’s fondness for contentious opinions, and he may well have been playing up to the lowest common bogan denominator, but his ignorant comments about trans and non-gender binary people, women’s arousal times, and young girls “reclaiming their inner slut” (or something like that – it was a shambles) were a slap in the face to those of us who had steadfastly defended him despite his sometimes Islamophobic political rants over the past few years.

There’s no way to defend tonight’s performance: no-one could ‘misunderstand’ his obnoxiousness. Roughly a third of the crowd had left by a little after halfway. The talk on the way back to the car park was all about how the singer had blown it. Great band – really, really bad night. Such a disappointment.

Rose Tattoo played a handful of songs at the Jailbreak Concert for Bonfest, in celebration of Bon Scott, the following evening, and were on fire from the moment they hit the stage. Everyone is allowed an off night, of course, but it seemed Friday’s show was derailed through a shocking lack of professionalism, and Rose Tattoo’s fans and band members deserved a lot more from their frontman.

LIVE: ROSE TATTOO – Fremantle, 16 Feb 2018

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About the Author: Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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  1. […] stark contrast to their well-below-par performance the previous night READ HERE they are on fire from the moment they hit the stage, with only a couple of funny looks between the […]

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