LIVE: The Living End, live at ANU Bar, Canberra (07-09-11)

There’s no doubt about it: The Living End still have it.

On Wednesday night I relived my first ever gig. Just over five years ago I saw The Living End at the Albury Wodonga Civic Centre – they were touring their then freshly pressed album State of Emergency. As a three-piece, their performance set the bar for years to come. It’s nice to see nothing’s changed.

King Cannons opened the night, blasting through the quickly growing crowd with their hard-edged catchy rock. Although their sound builds itself on pop hooks, don’t be fooled – these guys have got it in them to bring the house down. Although I rarely mention this aspect of a band, you’ll struggle to find a more consistently fashionable group – with black shirts, slick hair, and tattoos aplenty, they not only sounded great, but they looked the part.

Hunting Grounds filled the stage with their band, and it was interesting to see them swap instruments and roles over the course of their set. Without a doubt, their explosive rock really came to fruition with the final song – drums being smashed, a guitarist in the photo pit, a beaten up cymbal being thrown around, and some drumstick duelling all made it an amazing closer. Like King Cannons, they have live energy and talent – it’d be nice to see both bands go somewhere further in the future.

The Living End took to the stage, and surprisingly I didn’t break any ribs against the barrier in the “surge”. Well, it wasn’t so much a crowd surge as a gentle push. Not that I was complaining, but the crowd did take a little while to warm up.

Which got me thinking about the kind of band TLE are. The first songs were from their latest album, The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating, and don’t get me wrong – the reception for them was great, but it was still lukewarm relative to old favourites like “West End Riot” and “Roll On”.

“No kidding”, you’re thinking. “Generally people know a band’s older songs, of course there’s going to be a stronger reception.”

Well, that might seem logically right, but it’s not always true. There are plenty of bands that release a new album, get flogged by radio, and most will only know those songs. Everyone knows “White Noise” got one hell of a flogging. But despite that, TLE are still different. We had 99% of a room screaming along to tracks like “Prisoner of Society” and “All Torn Down”, both of which were released years and years ago.

Does this mean their albums are getting worse? No, of course not. But it shows that The Living End are one of the few contemporary Australian bands that have written songs that generations will consider “classics”. This is a band with longevity, who have paid their dues and toured relentlessly. This is a band who consistently draw all sorts of people to their gigs – from teenagers to adults who’re over 50. Plenty of bands can write decent hooks and memorable songs – only a rare few can write classics that stay with a generation for years upon years.

And only a rare few can play their songs so damn well! Chris Cheney commands the stage like a seasoned veteran, and his guitar is played so effortlessly it’s like another limb. Andy and Scott tear through their respective parts, and as proficient as the band is, you can’t deny the work they’re putting into the performance when they’re sweating all over the stage.

The Living End are not only skilled musicians, but skilled showmen – they all know how to present themselves on stage and get the most out of their music. This latest tour has seen another guitarist, Adrian, playing live, and he’s a welcome addition – he really does seem to flesh out the band’s sound.

There are few bands of this calibre. The Living End set the bar for music fans, inspire musicians, and are good at what they do – let’s hope they stick around for many years to come.

I didn’t take many photos. You can check out some nice ones over at FasterLouder though.

VIDEO: The Living End – “Song For The Lonely”

Aussie rockers The Living End have just released their sixth full length album, The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating, and “Song for the Lonely” is the second single from the release!

Check out this brand new video from the guys. Not sure how I feel about the artistic choice to blur the guys “parts”, would’ve been better to cover them up another way. Overall the video has some cool slow-mo footage, but that seems to be about it. You can weave together any explanation you want about the water and paintball bombardment being a metaphor and how these people are lonely or oppressed or whatever, but it really doesn’t seem all that revolutionary. That said, it’s a cool song, and well, the video is at least interesting.

See what you think.

FEATURE: An open letter to The Living End

Hi Andy, Chris, Scott,

How’s it going? I hear you guys are doing pretty well, especially with the new album – I can’t wait to pick it up on Friday!

Anyway, I wanted to tell you guys about someone. His name is Alex Hingston. Conflict of interest here: yeah, he is my best friend, but he is also the most naturally talented musician I personally know, and the biggest The Living End fan I’ve ever met.

This is a person you’ve had a huge influence on. Since early highschool, he’s become incredibly skilled at drumming and playing bass (both guitar and double-bass), and the number of times I’ve visited and seen him jamming his way through your back catalogue are countless. This is a person who lines up hours before your gigs to get a top spot. This is a person who owns your DVDs, your albums, and knows all of the b-sides you’ve recorded. This is a person who has introduced hundreds of people to your music through amazing school showcase performances. This is a person who stayed up ’til midnight to stream The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating, even though he had to leave for work the next day at 7. This is a person who has 28 videos where he covers your songs, uploaded on his YouTube channel (two of them are of your latest tracks, “Machine Gun” and “The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating”).

This is a person who will be driving for four hours to see you guys play in Canberra in September.

I’m writing this because I know firsthand how much it would mean for my friend to get to meet you guys. Even just to have a chat. Maybe to even have a little jam with you at soundcheck. Possibly to play a song with you on stage… – well you can’t blame me for trying, right? ; )

Alex has nothing but love for you and your music. I know you can’t just let anyone backstage because they say they’re a massive fan, because that gives an expectation to other fans too. All I can hope is that you see how much of an impact you’ve had on his life, and give him a chance to meet you somehow when you play in Canberra.

Enough of my words. If you (Andy, Chris, and Scott) have actually read this, thanks for your time. Here’s just one example to support what I’ve said: you’ll find many more uploaded on his account.

And don’t worry, I’m not trying to gain any leverage by publishing this here – I only get about 20 hits a day anyway. I just figured that writing here is my best chance to get you to see this.

If by some incredbile chance you’re keen to make this happen, send me an e-mail: jeremy.stevens@live.com.au

BRAND NEW: The Living End – “The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating”

This morning Aussie rockers The Living End premiered their brand new track on triple j at 7am – it’s called “The Ending is Just the Beginning Repeating”.

The band teased fans earlier this week by posting a short snippet on their website, a sample of lyrics, and a timer counting down to, well… pretty much now.

So what’s it like? Chris Cheney’s vocals sound great as per usual, and the song has a bit of an old Western vibe to it with the bell rings. The guitars sound great with the chugging verse, although I’m a bit concerned the chorus lyrics (the title) don’t have any kind of special hook to them – it just sounds a bit dry. On the other hand, in a live setting I can see the whole track going down brilliantly. It’s got an anthemic kind of feel, and I reckon it’s going to please fans of their more recent work.

Interestingly, the timer is still there after the premiere! But it’s longer. It’s counting down to 9am on the 22nd of July – the release date of their new album.

Take a listen to “The Ending is Just the Beginning Repeating” for yourself over at the band’s website right now. It’s out on iTunes too.

REVIEW: Editors – "An End Has a Start"

Indie rock 4-piece Editors came out with their sophomore album "An End Has a Start" in 2007.

I heard "Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors" around the time of its release and really liked it. There was something about it that really appealed to me. Though the song isn’t technically showy, it isn’t simplistic either. The rhythms expressed are paced nicely, nothing incredibly fast, but it doesn’t drag down and become boring. Unfortunately, I can’t say that for the rest of the album.

I’m not going to completely bag this out though. Maybe the whole stadium-rock vibe just gets a little worn-out for me, I’m not going to lie. As my musical tastes have grown, I’ve come to appreciate bands who are consistently excellent at what they do with their songs and what they’re trying to achieve, bands who are diverse over the course of a record in an appropriate manner and keep things interesting, and the few bands that manage to do both.

Editors are good at what they do, but it gets old for me. Tracks like "The Weight of the World" seem strained to me. The lyrical quality on some songs leaves something to be desired. It isn’t simply that they’re bad, I wouldn’t say that. But they just feel a little devoid of originality. I normally don’t like being this harsh, and this is the nicest way I can put it, but they don’t seem like something fresh! I generally try to judge a band based alone on it’s merits and my enjoyment, not relative to other releases from other bands, but that’s the only logical reason I can find for this feeling. Lyrically, the songs aren’t that enjoyable for me, and rhythmically, the vocals at times feel forced.

Negativity aside, I find that there are some very bright glimmers of songs. "Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors", "An End Has a Start" (both singles, I know, I don’t normally cling to singles as the high-points of albums), "The Racing Rats", and "Escape The Nest" to a lesser extent than the others, are quite enjoyable on the whole. Melodically they’re interesting, and the lyrics seem quite good.

Basically, I find this album suffers from an over-done repetitive style and uninspiring lyrics, but, there are points where certain songs stand out as being quite fun and good.

Score: 3/10