The Peep Tempel @ The Forum, Melbourne, Friday November 3, 2017

Through the fingers of thousands, curled into fists ready to punch the air or punch on, The Peep Tempel melted away into their last Melbourne night – as authentic as coffee at Pelligrini’s. If only we could hold them a while longer. Tie them, upside-down if necessary, as in their cinematic black and white video for Dark Beach, force them to play on, launch a few more missiles.

If this is to be their swan(ny’s hammy) song they went out in style – snarling, crouched and abrasive, yet warm. Giving off sparks, like a flick-knife in a microwave.

What a sound this band makes! It rages like a jet-powered tram smashing into The Public Bar in Victoria Street. Three distinct carriages assembled in a North Melbourne factory of sticky carpets and crackling cables drenched in Melbourne Bitter.

Oily engine-room turbines Steve ‘Striker’ Carter on drums and Stewie Rayner on bass provide what all great bands and institutions have: a solid foundation. Steve’s hands are tradie-tough or soft depending on mood. His playing is deceptively unfussy. His internal metronome is fantastic. Stewie has great tone and great taste. He knows when to venture above the 12th fret on his low-slung P bass. It always enhances the song and the mood. He’s a cracking player.

The Peep Tempel

Conducting the cacophony with his usual expert ears and fingers was the fourth Peep Tempel: Clinton Kraus. He used all his experience to great effect tonight. The Forum is pretty and atmospheric, but will boom like Geezer Butler’s 8×12 down a concrete well if not tamed and nurtured. Well done that man.

His mix allowed us to enjoy The Peep Tempel’s more subtle, nuanced stuff as well as the great thudding favourites like Carol. On the strength of the singalong during the latter, it may be that Australia finally has a worthy (and better) successor to a certain number by The Angels. At least until Trevor tells us his side of the story…

Or maybe he’s in a jail in a town called Keith, seen to by the broken Constable of our frontman’s pen and Australia’s story. Carol is such a brave and brilliant song. There’s a broken beauty in so much of what we hear and see, if we have the sense to pay attention. This stunning, ragged, abrasive paean is as Australian as a Sid Nolan painting.

What a talent is its author Blake Scott. There’s no better frontman in Australia. Bare fingers on battered white Epiphone, one senses constantly the conflict driving the brilliance. If he were an element, he’d be magnesium. His voice is protean; now Dio, now Bobcat Goldthwait, now Paul Rodgers. Elastic razor blades, rusty manuka, always under perfect control.

If ‘all’ Blake did was sing and play guitar that would be something. Instead he’s given us Big Fish, Mister Lester Moore, Rayguns, Thank You Machiavelli (do yourself a favour and watch the Sabotage-besting video), People Don’t Get You and, above all, Dark Beach. This song is Rocking in the Free World for the New World Order, a classic riff with timeless lyrics. Let it wash over you as thousands did at The Forum and wonder at the three blokes who painted these impressionistic masterpieces for us.

We get you fellas. You’re a great, great band. Come back soon.

Image credit: Nick Tuohy

Joy is out now via MGM.

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi