Back, fresh as daisies...
With the Go-Betweens, it’s all about re-affirmation, not nostalgia. Sure, whenever [a]Grant McLennan[/a] and [a]Robert Forster[/a] stopped by over the last ten years, it was a night of sweet, swoonsome memories, of the days when the finest ’80s pop was buried in cult and kudos. But tonight we’ve got a whole other agenda apart from the six flawless folk-pop albums that left off at 1988’s ’16 Lovers Lane’.
Tonight we’ve got ‘The Friends Of Rachael Worth’, where the Brisbane duo
seamlessly pick up the legacy, after a decade of separated solo work.
Assisted by their Sleater Kinney and Quasi chums, ‘The Friends of Rachael Worth’ is far from the sound of two old hacks playing catch-up with the indie world. It’s one of the albums of the year, brimming with jangling, stripped-down master-craft pop and head-in-the-clouds feelgood love poetry.
As was always the case, it’s the chemistry of McLennan and Forster‘s polar moods that sparks the genius. Forster stands centre-stage, naturally, soaking up the adoration with wry flamboyance. McLennan, his more earnest counterpart, is positioned to his right, yet they share the spoils equally. Neither are great musicians, but both top melodicists, and even when Forster precariously plucks out those inept guitar solos, you can’t but relish every minute. Where on previous visits, the audience would relentlessly lobby for old classics, tonight we’re more than happy head-bob our way through the newies. Grant‘s ‘Going Blind’ is head-spinningly groovy, and hearty reminder where Belle And Sebastian and the current indie elite pocketed much of their tricks from. Robert sings [I]”He got a four-wheel drive that he takes
to Double Island Point/He’s got a relationship with a woman he met in an Irish joint”[/I], from the lilting ‘He Lives My Life’, and prompts an uproarious cheer. “I waited three years since to sing that song here,” he states contentedly afterwards. God bless ’em. And there’s the snuggling warmth of ‘Magic In Here’, a great statement of intent with its heyday [a]Grant McLennan[/a] oscillations, and the dreamy ‘Orpheus Beach’, plus the neat Velvets crunch of Robert‘s autobiographical ‘German Farmhouse’.
If the new material sets it all up, the oldies provide the killer punch.
We get ‘Spring Rain’, ‘Bachelor Kisses’, ‘Bye Bye Pride’, ‘Draining The Pool For You’, the impetuous summer-love rush of ‘Head Full Of Steam’ and the
timeless swirl of ‘Streets Of Your Town’. By the encore, Robert and Grant are as utterly entranced by the whole occasion as their audience. While the rhythm section rest up, Robert calls for the lights to be dimmed and two white spotlights on each of them. They play ‘Danger In The Past’, the title-track from Forster‘s first solo album, and it’s imbued with ostentatious theatrics, as he swivels his hips like a proto Jarvis Cocker poet/playboy. He is, without doubt, the finest fop to have to have to flicked his fringe and flopped his wrist on this stage in a long time.
And finally, ‘One Plus One’, from McLennan‘s 1997 solo effort ‘In Your Bright Star’, is a sweet summery kiss-off. And such is the collective
back-catalogue, they could’ve regaled us for days on end. But more
importantly, the Go-Bes are back, fresh as daisies.
Leagues O’ Toole