Despite only having three bands appearing at the Brisbane leg of the festival, The Hoodoo Gurus’ Dig It Up Festival at Brisbane’s The Tivoli promised to be a fascinating night of classic rock music. A crowd with a healthy amount of grey hair filled the venue, quaffed beer like it’s 1982, and threw caution to the wind during the hard-rocking three hours of music.
First up for tonight would be The Flamin’ Groovies, and the four-piece take us right back to San Francisco circa 1969 with their mix of psychedelia, pub rock, and jangle pop. The excellent ‘I Can’t Hide’ sounds like everything Lee Mavers of The Las has ever tried to be, and ‘Between The Now’ from the Now album is turned into an epic rock jam, with frontman Cyril Jordan putting in more energy than many performers half his age. The band sign off with “Fuck Kim Jong Un and God help us in this world! It’s been real and it’s been nice, and it’s been real nice.” Well played, sirs.
Next up is New York’s Blue Oyster Cult playing their first ever gig in Australia, and unquestionably the quintet steal the show. “We’re very glad to be here, where have you been for the last forty years?” asks guitarist Eric Bloom as the band come flying out of the traps with ‘It’s Alright’; a hillbilly, rockabilly, super-silly blast of classic rock riffage that immediately proves these guys are some seriously top-drawer musicians. Bassist Kasim Sulton (previously of Utopia, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, and Meatloaf) proves himself to be an effortlessly cool and talented customer on the right side of the stage throughout the entire show. Next comes ‘Golden Age of Leather’ with it’s brilliant chant of “raise your can of beer up high” making The Tivoli audience do just that.
‘Burning For You’ from the Fire Of Unknown Origin album is next, before ‘Then Came The Last Days of May’ from their 1972 debut, featuring long, shredding solos from firstly Richie Castellano, followed by Donald Roeser. ‘Godzilla’ is a track that shows the band don’t take themselves too seriously amongst some of the prog influences, before the vital closer, ‘Don’t Fear The Reaper’. It was at this point I saw several gentlemen of advanced years crying and clapping their hands together like little kids who just got their first trampoline – beautiful.
And so, it falls to our hosts for the evening to finish things off. The Hoodoo Gurus come onto the stage in a maelstrom of noise and flashing lights, launching into ‘Bittersweet’ from 1985, then ‘Poison Pen’. “Thanks for coming back again!” says frontman Dave Faulkner, before introducing ‘In the Wild’, explaining that the song began life being called ‘In the Dry’. At this point, it becomes clear that the highlight of the night would be Blue Oyster Cult (their virtuosity, showmanship, and great tunes are just unable to be bettered), and the Gurus’ ‘Hayride to Hell’, ‘The Other Side of Paradise’, and ‘Tojo’ weren’t going to change that fact. In saying that, it was a pleasure to see three ‘older’ bands show exactly how much they still have to offer, and indeed be able to rock our socks off more ferociously than most of the newer bands around today. What a great night.