Pop Will Eat Itself + Dog Machine + Monster Zoku Onsomb @ The Zoo, 05.09.2014

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Last Wednesday I was in London seeing Kate Bush, this Wednesday I was in Perth seeing No Bunny.  At one point during the show a bottle of whisky was passed from the stage into the audience, some ‘mates’ forced it down their mate’s throat and within seconds he is vomiting all over the floor.

Last Friday night I was in London seeing Kate Bush, this Friday I’m in Brisbane seeing Pop Will Eat Itself at The Zoo.  From the sublime to the ridiculous twice in a week.

I was completely convinced that I’d written a review for this show but could find no evidence of any text everywhere I looked.  I think I just drafted it in my head but never got around to actually writing those thoughts down.  Despite my ex describing PWEI as ‘music for football hooligans’, I’ve always had a soft spot for and they hold a special place in my heart that owes much to nostalgia and memories of good times in the late 80s and early 90s.  This Is The Day, This Is The Hour, This Is This and The Looks Or The Lifestyle were a part of the soundtrack to those times and although time might not have been kind to the technology used in creating those albums, I still regard them as fun albums filled with stupid songs.  As a band renown for selling more t-shirts than records, they’re a band that was never taken seriously and I don’t think they ever really got their dues for doing something that was creative and different.  They were a collection of brilliant t-shirt designs.  Most of the reason I don’t buy as many t-shirts as I did back when I was a poor penniless student has less to do with any notion that I’m far too old to be wearing band t-shirts and a lot more to do that so little effort is put into the designs these days.  It’s probably because you don’t get a people like the Designers Republic designing band t-shirts anymore.

I think I only saw PWEI the once, a show at The Riverside in Newcastle, from memory one of two shows (the other was in Middlesbrough if I recall correctly) in support of the ‘Karmadrome’ single.  It was a sell-out show, and one of those legendary nights at The Riverside when the temperature reached tropical levels and the sweat dripped from the ceiling.  I still have the t-shirt to prove it.

Knowing how it works, part of me was tempted to wear said t-shirt tonight.  PWEI, Iron Maiden and Slayer are about the only bands where it’s allowable to wear the band’s t shirt to the show.  There are plenty of examples on show tonight, ones from various tours and times over the years.

The PWEI on show tonight only has one member from the original/classic line-up.  Although when they first reformed, having discovered all the old files in someone’s shed if I remember correctly, they played some shows with Clint Mansell, these days he’s too busy doing soundtracks for Hollywood.  It’s always been one of pop’s most unlikely stories.  This leaves Graham Crabb as the sole survivor.  Although he was co-vocalist, I don’t have strong memories of him on stage, possibly because Clint Mansell with his long dreads made a much stronger visual impression.  The part of Clint Mansell is ably played by Mary Byker, once of that classic 80s named band, Gaye Byker On Acid, (who also played shows in drag as Lesbian Dopeheads On Mopeds).

Although there’s a new album to plug, most of the set is drawn from that 1989 – 1995 period, as you would expect.  The new songs sound like the old songs, the only difference being that few in the crowd know them, everyone is here for the nostalgia trip.  It’s a long set, too long to be honest; 21 PWEI songs is a lot to listen to in one sitting.  It’s a bit uneven as at times the band seem to flag.  There are some notable standouts during the set though, with ‘Ich Bin Ein Auslander’ and ‘Preaching to the Perverted’ being the highlights.  Many of the other songs are good but, almost 8 months on, those are the ones I remember most of all.

At the end of the night part of me is tempted to buy a new t-shirt from the merch desk but in the end I decide not to.  As much as they’re one of those bands that I’ll always have a soft spot for, I think I’ve moved on and am happy for them to be a happy memory from my past.

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