LANE - JOE PUG - HENRY WAGONS
THORNBURY THEATRE - 5 NOVEMBER 2011
Back in the
1950s, the 5th of November was bonfire night, where every citizen of the
small country town where I grew up, contributed to the building of said
bonfire and stocked up on fireworks. Bonfire night was wild and wonderful,
full of excitement, fun and danger.
the nanny state would frown on such events, so one way to let off steam
on this 5th of November was to attend the triple whammy show at the majestic
I suppose, compare a Henry Wagons show to bonfire night. It sparkled and
fizzed like a penny bunger, then took off like a rocket.
started quietly with a half hour set from local boy Jordie Lane,
just come from a homemade roast chicken dinner, so he informed the
performed half a dozen songs, drawn from his repertoire of two highly
regarded records Sleeping Patterns and Blood Thinner,
singing such songs as War Rages On, inspired by a visit to
Vietnam, and murder ballad Publican's Daughter. He introduced
Hollywood's Got A Hold by relating a story where he was alone,
broke and hungry in the City of Angels and stumbled into an AA meeting
being held in a sandwich shop, and was welcomed as a fellow alcoholic,
despite his protestations that he only wanted a sandwich. He finished
his set with his best known song, the romantic I Could Die Looking
Pug stoked the fire and delivered his characteristic intense and
fervent performance, starting with Nobody's Man, before pausing
to explain his presence at the show. He was invited by Henry Wagons
this time around to tour with him on Henry's return to Australia.
He was expected to play the Cup Eve show at the Esplanade but was
held up in Perth by the Qantas strike/lockout; despite the inconvenience
he declared his support for the striking workers.
from Chicago, Joe Pug has been compared favourably to Dylan, writing
killer lyrics - they are complex and forceful and generally anti-establishment.
He is a dynamic, passionate performer and you can feel his sincerity
and love of music palpably in his stage show. His set lasted an
hour and he performed such classics as Unsophisticated Heart,
How Good You Are, I Do My Father's Drugs, Hymn 35#, Hymn 101# and
Nation of Heat. There was a request for his most popular
song, Speak Plainly Diana which he left to last.
By the end
of Joe Pug's set, figuratively speaking, the tom thumbs had all been expended
and the penny bungers were about to give way to the big bangers and sky
rockets. Yes, Henry Wagons was about to come on stage.
has recently returned from touring the USA, and is performing a number
of solo (and with band) shows, touting his new album Rumble, Shake
and Tumble the follow up to the popular Rise and Fall of Goodtown.
He has been described by Jeff Jenkins in Impress as "one of Australia's
great live performers. He's a showman, a storyteller and an unlikely sex
symbol. With that headband, he looks like a crazy '70s tennis player,
but I think he's more like the Australian version of Warren Zevon. He
has a wonderfully wicked, dark sense of humour, but he's also capable
of delivering truly beautiful songs".
certainly agree with the above statement. Henry Wagons is riveting
- a real firecracker of a live performer and he has a fabulous Johnny
Cash baritone voice, that suits his country rock style.
performance on the night of the 5th November was ostensibly solo,
though after playing a few songs solo, he summoned his "third
favourite" band member Si Francis to the stage to provide washboard
accompaniment and a few songs later his "second favourite"
band member, guitarist Chad Mason, and later still invited Jordie
Lane and Joe Pug to join him.
the crowd with a number of songs from his repertoire, Save Me
for one and the astounding crowd favourite Willie Nelson,
he also performed a number of interesting covers. Never Been
To Spain, written by Hoyt Axton and covered by such artists
as Elvis, Waylon and Three Dog Night, was one, and the romantic
Elvis number Separate Ways, which Henry declared he first
heard on a visit to Graceland.
and Joe joined Henry et al for a rendition of Long Black Veil
and Lawyers, Guns & Money, a classic Warren Zevon song,
which ended his set.
for an encore and sang My Daydreams, and then what Henry called
his favourite Christian song, with Joe Pug providing harmony vocals, I
Like The Christian Life, before ending the show with the fabulous
Rise & Fall of Goodtown.
As a substitute
for bonfire night, the Wagons, Pug & Lane show at Thornbury Theatre
was almost as good as I remember bonfire night being. It was hot and sparkling
and great fun.
photos by Anne Sydenham
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