Radio Birdman

When your reviewer drifted into the punk rock scene in his teenaged years in that strange planet known as 'Perth', there were hushed whispers of the founders of the genre in Australia from the eastern states, natch. One name was The Saints, founded by Ed Kuepper, Chris Bailey and Ivor Hay and famous for their single '(I'm) Stranded'. The other was Radio Birdman who, whilst slightly less famous, evoked from their very name something more electric, more futuristic, more revolutionary. There was wild stories of biker fans and various rowdy gigs such as the notorious Paddington Town Hall show, all eventually leading to their breakup after only one full-length album (with two releases), Radios Appear, albeit to be followed-up some three year's later, Living Eyes. One may also confess an association with a childhood cartoon hero from Birdman and the Galaxy Trio; the cartoon character's trademark cry of "Biiiiirdman" was inevitably tied a mental image of the band. It's perhaps a pity that wasn't somehow incorporated into their acts.

Having completely missed all previous performances of Radio Birdman, this opportunity was not going to slip. Playing two filled-to-capacity shows at The Corner Hotel, the Birdmen were supported by Penny Ikinger (formally of Sacred Cowboys) and HITS. The former played mostly slower indie-rock with real acumen, a classy presentation and a great finale.

The second support band, HITS, had a larger fan base present and performed pretty much Australian pub rock with a punk edge and 70s-style punk banter. Their set suffered from The Corner curse, the affliction this time taking the form of an over-emphasis on the lower frequencies, which was heard and felt. Visiting the mixing desk suspicions were confirmed; everything was turned up way too high. Whilst the choice of their final song, a cover of Joy Division's 'Shadowplay, showed immaculate taste.

The Birdman set started very solidly with 'Smith and Wesson Blues', before moving into the catchy surf-punk sounds of 'Do The Pop', then their classic songs 'Anglo-Girl Desire', 'Descent Into The Maelstrom', and the slower and softer 'Love Kills'. Mixing the newer with the older the middle of the set had 'We've Come So Far (To Be Here Today)', the opening track of their 2006 album, followed by their first single 'Alone In The Endzone' (1978), 'More Fun' (1981), and then 'Zeno Beach' (2006). Returning to more historical pieces was 'Breaks My Heart', 'Non-stop Girls', and the charmingly Canuck-flavoured 'I-94'.

As the night wore on the crowd and sound became increasingly enthusiastic starting with the brilliance of the jazz-punk with puzzling lyrics in 'Man With Golden Helmet', of which the excellent keyboard work by original member Phillip 'Pip' Hoyle is noted. It was really quite strange; the crowd at this stage had been positive, but something seemed to click at this point and everything was turned up a gear. 'Man With Golden Helmet' was followed by 'Murder City Nights', the classic 'Burned My Eye', before the set was concluded with an eternal favourite, 'Aloha Steve and Danno', a truly superb dedication (with due credit) to Hawaii Five-O. This is brilliantly constructed piece of music with two catchy tunes in one package.

Returning for an encore and stretching their set to a wonderful one-and-a-half hours, four great crowd-pleasers were provided; the thundering 'Hand Of Law', 'What Gives?', and 'New Race' ("YEAH! HUP!"), before concluding with their classic cover of The 13th Floor Elevator's 'You're Going To Miss Me', which we can only hope is not an appropriate compline.

Throughout the night lead singer Rob Younger writhed and bounced around like Iggy Pop at a Countdown interview and guitarist and chief songwriter Deniz Tek give every indication that he clearly loves this work as the band, as a whole performed their set at a typical breakneck speed with great competence. A notable absence - and this must be mentioned - was founding guitarist Chris 'Klondike' Masuak who wanted to be part of the tour, but unfortunately personal differences between him and other members of the band kept him away; ahh, musicians, such sensitive and fragile souls - we missed out on the famous guitar wars between Tek and Masuak. Nevertheless this was a truly superb show and great value for money for the punters in true punk rock style; Biiiiirdman!

Radio Birdman - New Race @ Corner Hotel, Richmond (3rd Nov 2014)

Radio Birdman's set list.

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