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Tribute Gig for Syd in Sydney
Thanks to the amazing organisational skills of Cracker Factory Music, Sydney played host to a wonderfully successful sell out tribute concert in honour of Syd at the Hopetoun Hotel, Surry Hills on Saturday night the 6th January. Linda had the lovely thought of lighting 61 candles for Syd, as it would have been his 61st birthday on this evening, but the candles were deemed a fire hazard due to their close proximity to the venue's velvet curtains.
The show started at 8.30pm and by 9pm the Hopetoun Hotel was chock-a-bloc filled to capacity. The night kicked off with a fitting intro by H. TIMSEEL from Adelaide in South Australia, whose song aptly titled "The End" was a very special tribute song in a similar haunting vein as Shine On, with beautiful guitar solos conjuring up Syd's spirit amongst the audience, evoking tears and visions of our now departed genius. Due to the fact that the Adelaide based musician could not attend, the song was edited to a special video clip that began with surreal, almost Floyd style imagery, and then as the song's tempo changed it soon flowed on to celebrate Syd Barrett's amazing life, with the audience attentive and transfixed by the tribute.
Phil Ashbrook from Sydney band The Meek then took to the stage to make a very warm and compassionate speech about his recently departed hero.
Syd Barrett speech by Phil Ashbrook from "The Meek".
Following Phil's moving speech the eleven bands took to the stage one by one giving the appreciative audience an absolute barrage of Syd Barrett tunes. First up was Simon Holmes from famous Australian band The Hummingbirds, who played a very gentle acoustic version of Terrapin and a deliciously tasty version of Wined and Dined. Next up was the dynamic outfit of Midnight Hysteria, who ripped straight into a beautifully quirky version of The Gnome, complete with mad keyboard splashes! This was hotly followed by a blistering version of Arnold Layne, getting a round of applause as they exited the stage ready for the next band! Next up were Sydney band The Meek, who performed a lysergically accurate and gorgeous rendition of Syd's wonderful solo single Octopus.
Taking the audience into a suitably erratic and eccentric psychedelic world of dollshouse darkness and old perfume that Syd would have been proud of was the strikingly original versions of Long Gone and Here I Go by the entertainingly crazy band Tuxedo. The lead singer tantalising the audience with her wonderfully mad Crissy Amphlett (The Divinyls) stage mannerisms fused with an almost Kate Bush style vocal.
Next up were the wonderfully tight and very rock Tom Stone and the Soldiers of Fortune who wooed the crowd with their electric and very energetic versions of Interstellar Overdrive and Vegetable Man. A Fantastic set.
Up next was Alec Eifell who turned his beautiful voice to two lovely Syd tunes, Dark Globe and The Scarecrow. Scarecrow was similarly playful and Dark Globe certainly sounding very faithful to how Syd sung the original album version. The audience then had the chance to wander to the bar and have a have a toilet break while Astral Kaleidoscope set up their elaborate stage set. Starting with a haunting guitar screaming and lost in the distance, the band built the tension slowly as they began to perform very trippy, but new versions of Dominoes and Late Night. The musicianship of this very young band was incredible although the lead singer was almost lost amongst the frantic haze of the very big psychedelic sound.
Another young Sydney band were to follow, and their set gained them a huge round of applause from the now tightly packed audience. Taking to the stage the lead singer bore a striking resemblance to our beloved Syd Barrett and even introduced his band as Roger Waters, Bob Close, Rick Wright and Nick Mason. This amazing five piece kicked off their set with a fantastic version of Syd's first ever tune, Lucy Leave, and ohhh what a version! It even had that gravelly and raunchy Syd Barrett vocal sound just like the original acetate. They then proceeded to go into an amazingly colourful and potent version of Candy and a Currant Bun complete with a segway and short visit to the Opel track Dollrocker before swinging it back into a cracking version of No Good Trying. You could tell the passion for Syd was well and truly alive!
The stage was then graced by the wonderfully professional Altona. Their charasmatic lead singer Jeremy Smith belted out some fantastic vocals, showering the video cameras and people in the audience with pure rock sweat as he lead his band through four amazing Syd Barrett penned tunes. First off, The Fragments joined Altona and took to the stage with them for a very accurate performance of Syd's very technical and spacy song Astronomy Domine, gaining much respect from the audience. With the help of Rohan, Adi and Alexandra from other bands prior, Altona also blasted out very spirited versions of Bike, Lucifer Sam and Flaming. Wow what great versions!!! This lot were burning with a fire fuelled by Syd's soul! AMAZING!!! Getting a round of applause Altona were rapidly replaced by The Fragments, who performed a sweet acidic version of the still officially unreleased, but amazingly psychedelic Syd track Scream Thy Last Scream. Again the audience loved this very rarely performed Syd track.
Last up were the headline act of the young alternative outfit and upcoming popular Sydney band Belles Will Ring, who ended the night with fantastic versions of See Emily Play, Golden Hair and finally one of my personal favourites... No Mans Land. The band were exhausted after playing their vigorous set and in true Syd Barrett fashion, as they exited the stage the audience were left clamouring for more at almost 10 minutes before midnight. By the length that the round of applause lasted, I think most audience members would agree that The Syd Barrett tribute night at The Hopetoun in Sydney was the best $10 they had ever spent.
This is the first time such a volume of Syd Barrett songs were performed in one night here in Australia, and stood among the capacity crowd was Violent Femmes founding member Brian Ritchie who commented that it was an amazing night. Brian has personally posted this review on his Myspace page...
Thanks to Brian Ritchie for permission in using his blog review.
Last night there was a fantastic Syd Barrett tribute concert here in Surry Hills. See it here: www.sydbarrett.org
It was wonderful to see a lot of young people listening to his music avidly and also to see and hear the young musicians kicking ass on his music with great enthusiasm and authenticity.
Syd was a huge influence on me and obviously most of the serious rockers of my generation. Hearing his music last night reminded me of what a phenomenal lyricist he was. And the music, he's one of the few rock musicians who can truly be called a composer rather than the common term songwriter. His music is very well constructed with time changes and dynamics shifts not used by any other people I can think of. But still well humoured and ROCKING.
The show was professionally filmed on High Definition cameras, and a DVD of the evening is "maybe" planned for a possible release in the future. It really was a very moving, emotion charged night, paying homage to a true innovator, lyrical and musical genius whose soul will now live on in all of us forever.
As I was one of the three people operating a High Def Video camera for most of the night, Linda from Cracker Factory Music kindly offered to also fire off some still shots of the evening. Her wonderfully colourful shots are pictured below...
(above) The Meek
(above) Tom Stone and The Soldiers of Fortune
(above) Alec Eiffel
(above) Astral Kaleidoscope
(above) Dollyrocker Movement's lead singer/guitarist performing as Syd Barrett
(above) Jeremy Smith, lead singer/guitarist of Altona
Rohan on guitar and Alexandra from Midnight Hysteria on keyboards both join Altona on stage.
(above) Belles Will Ring finish the night
I also have to use this space to thank some very special people who helped make this show a huge success...
(above) Linda Sachinelli from Cracker Factory Music and Jeremy Smith from Altona
(above - from left) Dinner at The Town Hall : Phil Ashbrook from The Meek, Me, Alexandra from Midnight Hysteria (sadly hidden behind me), Mike Howlett who kindly operated the high ceiling camera, Linda from Cracker Factory Music, and Jeremy from Altona.
(above) Mathew "Macka" and Kellie MacKereth, two amazingly lovely friends of mine, who kindly put me up in there home in Sydney for the weekend of the tribute gig. Macka also operated a camera on the night.
(above) A huge thankyou to Macka for tirelessly digitising all the High Definition footage into his G5, then back onto my Portable Hard Drive so I could take all the fresh video footage home with me. Next weekend begins the massive task of sifting through and editing more than 12 hours worth of camera footage shot at the gig.
(above - from the left) Phil, Linda (Astral Cowgirl), Jeremy and me
Well it was an emotional and moving weekend in Sydney paying tribute and saying goodbye to Syd Barrett.
Thanks to everbody who attended and those who gave their precious time to help out.