The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

THE TREWS
With THE VOLCANICS and THE WISHERS
INDI BAR, Friday 8th October 2010

By Mark Rockpit

 

We’re lucky enough to see all three bands soundcheck in the relaxed confines of Scarborough’s Indi Bar tonight, and it puts us in the mood for an unexpected night of great and diverse rock n’ roll. We’d only heard about Canada’s best kept secret THE TREWS Aussie tour a few days before, and damn lucky too as The Rockpit are big fans of all their albums, especially "Den Of Thieves" and last year's acoustic live "Friends and Total Strangers".

 

Show time comes around at 8:45 and Paul McCarthy’s THE WISHERS take their acoustic folkie rock to the stage with ‘Two Sisters In The Cellar’ and we’re immediately impressed with this hybrid of Dylanesque rootsy Americana and Aussie pub rock – Australamericana, anyone??

 

The band are one guitarist down tonight, but have played gigs with just the rhythm section and Paul before tonight, and Mark Constable’s star turn on harmonica adds texture and depth to the tunes in grand style. We admit it is a little unusual to see the Soanes sisters Kylie and Abby playing such a different style from their Sure Fire Midnights rock chick habitat, but they prove eminently adaptable to the folkier stylings.

 

 

 

‘The Faint Aroma Of Performing Seals’ and ‘I’m Alive’ showcase McCarthy’s mellifluous voice, which remains unjaded after his many years gigging around this sleepy town in bands such as The Jackals and – even further back – The Boys.

 

A quick word on the venue – The Indi Bar rocks, they’re one of the few venues still dedicated to diverse live music, and whilst they mainly feature rootsy artists, they still welcome rockers in on a regular basis. They’ll be gone all too soon of course – this beachfront property is just too valuable and eventually developers will knock the old girl down and build a playground for the rich and we will have lost another icon to the charlatan that calls itself “Progress”, once again at the cost of community. A sad day that will be, so take advantage of The Indi Bar while you can!

 

 

‘What if the Numbers Are Wrong’ is another fine moment, and ‘Hold Me Close’ – the title track of their debut EP (Review coming soon) – is a more mournful ode that is Celtic in every way except for the lack of a fiddle and tin whistle.

 

This is glorious, organic, life-affirming stuff with some very cool lyrical smarts – bravo Mr McCarthy!

 

‘My Gypsy Heart’ is a hard acoustic rocker with a great pumping harmonica from Constable rounds out the set before they rip through a steam train version of Johnny Cash’s ‘Folsom Prison Blues’. Wonderful!

 

 

THE TREWS don’t faff about – they’ve come a long way from the opposite side of the world to play and they’ve another gig to get to for the One Movement Festival, so they step onto the stage with little fanfare and proceed to show us why they are so popular in their native Canada.

 

Photo Mark Diggins

 

It’s immediately evident that the band has been enjoying their first couple of days in Australia – singer Colin MacDonald admits he got too much sun (he is as red as a beetroot) and that drummer Sean Dalton and bassist Jack Syperek had to be rescued by a lifeguard after a rip dragged them out to sea whilst surfing.

 

“Australia – we like it… A LOT!”

 

Also apparent is that these guys are as tight as only a band who have played together for years and years can be, and the songs are simply great, full of Beatlesy melodies and storytelling lyrics in the fine tradition of Dylan, Cohen and our own Paul Kelly & Mick Thomas.

 

There’s some great hard rock guitar work as John-Angus MacDonald unleashes his inner rock god through some blazing solos, and the whole band contribute to impossibly good harmonies while jumping around throughout. Colin channels a little Joe Cocker through ‘Poor Old Broken Hearted Me’, which was seamlessly segued into from ‘The Power Of Positive Drinking’, and even throws in some lyrics from Humble Pie’s ’30 Days In The Hole’ at one stage.

 

The Trews sound is pure rock n’ roll and they hit the stage hard with huge hooks and riffs so chunky you could carve ‘em. Add to that soulful impassioned vocals and an infectious backbeat and you have a band that commands the stage. Considering we didn’t even know about this gig 2 days ago, this is magic!

 

‘Ishmael & Maggie’ is introduced as the story of 2 alcoholic Nova Scotians from a fishing town, and it’s irresistible chorus of “Oh my lord I can’t stand to be alone, I’ve been drinking too much, I’d better go home” is picked up by the crowd instantly.

 

Photo Mark Diggins

 

‘Highway Of Heroes’, about the first Canadian female soldier to be killed on duty in Afghanistan, is simultaneously mournful and uplifting – another great story told to irresistible music.

 

A fantastic set and on the strength of this the band are certain to win a new fan base in Australia, so hopefully it won’t be long before we see them back on our shores again.

 

THE TREWS SETLIST

Fleeting Trust
So She’s Leaving
Not Ready
Can’t Stop Laughing
The Power Of Positive Drinking
Poor Old Broken Hearted Me
Ishmael & Maggie
Highway Of Heroes
Tired Of Waiting
Hold Me

 

Local reprobates THE VOLCANICS are last up tonight – they love you, and it shows as they straddle the stage like rock rodeo riders. It’s easy to see why they are so highly regarded in this town, with a Detroit garage sound that sometimes sounds like The Ramones meets The Strokes, and sometimes like degenerate stoner punks from the dark side.

 

 

They tear through latest single ‘Can’t Do What I Can’t Do’ along with a much of their 2007 debut self titled album, barely stopping for breath for a moment. Singer Johnny Phatouros seems in a shamanic trance at times, glaring into the middle distance still as a fox one moment, shaking tambourines to pieces like a man in a voodoo thrall the next.

 

As their website clearly states, “The Volcanics are committed to delivering straight up, raw Rock n’ Roll” – and they succeed admirably, wrapping up their set with a foundation shaking stab at Hendrix's 'Fire'. Catch them soon!


A diverse night, to be sure, with Australianified Americana folk, pure melodic rock, and a glorious tribute to old school garage rock to finish. Fantastic stuff from start to finish and thankyou to The Indi Bar for continuing to provide nights like this for us – long may they continue.