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Image for You Am I @ The Annandale Hotel, Sydney (14/11/09)

You Am I @ The AnnandaleHotel, Sydney (14/11/09)

Playing three shows at the Annandale, this was almost the perfect place to see one of Australia’s iconic rock bands of the last 20 years. It was unclear whether You Am I decided to play these shows to support The Annandale’s financial battles with council or merely that they wanted to get back to basics in a small and sweaty pub venue.

Either way, it didn’t matter as they played a solid two hours of life affirming rock – œn roll that took in all the cliches of the genre but delivered them with such verve and gusto that hardened cynics would have had to check their attitude at the door.

Warming the crowd (after a solid set by Skybombers ) was a completely unknown band by the name The Crimes. After a bewildering bout of “I recognise that guy!”, it quickly became apparent that The Crimes were in fact The Vines playing an undercover support slot. Flanked by what looked like twins on bass and guitar, Craig Nicholls ran through his back catalogue and introduced us to a new song off an album due in 2010.

Gone were the erratic tantrums and unpredictability from the frontman. The signs were still there, but he appeared relaxed and enjoying clearing out the cobwebs with a rare live set. All the hits were there – Highly Evolved, Ride and Get Free – balanced by some of his sweet – œ60s ballads. It was a powerful and fun set that reminded how much more than a one-hit-wonder The Vines have become, making for a bright looking future.

You Am I bounded on stage looking like they were boxers entering the ring; Tim Rogers immediately taking on the role of ring announcer/pirate/showman. Over the next two hours, he spouted wisdom, bullshit, jokes and heartfelt thanks while the band navigated a now large back catalogue of hits and – œshould have been’ hits.

Seeing You Am I live generates a familiar feeling, with memories of summer nights in pubs, sun baked Big Day Outs and the heady days of the late – œ90s when the music seemed so life-affirming. As a result it was like catching up with old friends, the bouncy Davey Lane, the immovable Andy Kent the rollicking Russell Hopkinson on drums and of course Mr Rogers.

The songs are what makes it all so energising and they were happy to oblige the fans with hits from across their career. Gunslingers, Cathy’s Clown, Mr Milk, a storming version of Junk and ton of others were all played with renewed gusto. Heavy Heart was reworked into a tougher, faster romp that showed they respect their older songs but want to keep them fresh and fun to play.

A couple of covers snuck into the set, with the most impressive being the genius opening shot of Regurgitator’s I Sucked A Lot Of Cock To Get Where I Am and The Lemonheads’ Rudderless. Both songs strangely sounded just like the originals while still sounding like pure You Am I. Andy Kent took lead vocals on Neil Young’s Come On Baby Lets Go Downtown while Lane and Hopkinson showed on a couple of songs that they too have strong, distinct voices.

You Am I showed yet again that as soon as you start to write them off as Stones copyists, they prove you wrong and show that they are in fact an amalgam of Gram Parsons, MC5, Mudhoney and The Faces. They can crank out the riffs and then strip a song back to a simple melody like no one else.

After playing a set out at Cronulla earlier in the day and then playing for 120 minutes the same night, it shows the enthusiasm and passion for You Am I still drives the quartet. If they take that into the studio, we could well see a return to the form of their classic early records.

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celtics33

celtics33 said on the 16th Nov, 2009

i went to the fri 13th show.

it was toilet. rogers has always been a bitter man, with a massive chip on his shoulder and this was no exception.

the band sounded great but his voice is gone and i don't want to hear any more tirades about powderchair or silverfinger. they made it commercially and you didn't. deal with it champ. (he was also clearly under the weather)

i do appreciate their status as one of the most iconic and influential aussie rock bands of the last 20 years, but this was woeful. awful set list. (one song of hourly, daily???)

highlight, the first minute of "i want to break free" and the opening riff from "hells bells".

i have seen them several times before, but won't be again.

looks like i went to the wrong show.

JackT

JackT said on the 16th Nov, 2009

A worthy first post.

sunnyperth

sunnyperth said on the 19th Nov, 2009

Celtics 33 tell us what you really think...

knate

knate said on the 19th Nov, 2009

he did, and i liked it

jabdaddy

jabdaddy said on the 20th Nov, 2009

celtics33 i agree 100%. i have seen you am i almost 20 times and love them to death, but tim rogers is losing me. his brilliantly cynical showmanship is now just replaced with total bitterness and little respect for the fans. the set list was awful. i don't pay $40 to hear 12 cover songs or to hear andy, russell or davey sing. i have total respect for the band and always have bit feel for the first time like the respect is not reciprocated. i don't care if they don't play the singles. i am more than happy to hear b-sides and little known tracks from the albums. but it has to be their music. if i wanted to see a covers band then bloody hell, i would have gone elsewhere. so, so disappointing.