Pop Will Eat Itself, Jim Bob (Carter USM) and Caligula @ Max Watt’s, Melbourne – Friday, March 9, 2018

If you’ve ever felt that you’re too old for this sh-t, then feast your eyes on a mosh full of 40 and 50-somethings and be inspired.

A cracking triple bill kicked off with Sydney’s Caligula, who got the band back together just for the four dates of this tour. Singer Ashley Rothchild’s voice is as strong as ever, and as they plummeted through such forgotten gems as i.c.u., Checkpoint and Roundabout – plus, of course, the Smokey Robinson cover Tears of a Clown – we wondered how these guys have become one of the many rather forgotten Aussie bands of the ’90s. It’s definitely time to dig out that copy of Rubenesque again.


Next up, Jim Bob from Carter USM, aka Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine. It shouldn’t work. No sequencer, no drum machine, no electric guitar and, of course, no Fruitbat doesn’t leave much of the original recipe in tact. But after a few minutes of adjusting to the John Cooper Clarke-esque vibe of one man, an acoustic guitar, some ace banter and a songbook of cracking classic original tunes (plus a couple of ringers) there was no cause for disappointment.

Melbourne’s indie kid- erm, grown-ups got to turn the clock back 25 years, letting loose in an enthusiastic mosh (remember, this was an acoustic performance) as the other Jim Morrison delivered stripped-back takes on such genuine classics as The Only Living Boy in New Cross, Shopper’s Paradise, Billy’s Smart Circus, Sheriff Fatman and the Inspiral Carpets’ This Is How It Feels, along with a handful of less hyper fan faves such as A Prince in a Pauper’s Grave and Falling On a Bruise, before saying goodbye with The Impossible Dream. Judging by the sea of Carter T-shirts, many came just for this man’s performance. Nobody would have departed feeling unbearable sorrow.

Headliners Pop Will Eat Itself then bounded on stage, and they certainly said “GRRR!” Graham Crabb and Richard March flew the flag for original members (Clint Mansell is successfully busy in soundtrack land), and together with Gaye Bykers on Acid/Apollo 440 stalwart Mary Byker, the ace, ever-smiling Davey on bass and drummer Jason they brought the noise in what was mostly a welcome greatest hits package. Def. Con. One – BAM! Can U Dig It? BAM! Wise Up! Sucker – BAM! Dance of the Mad Bastards – BAM! Bulletproof – BAM! Get the Girl! Kill the Baddies! BAM! RSVP – BAM! Ich Bien Ein Auslander – BAM! Everything’s Cool – BAM! That’s a heck of a lot of BAM.

The mosh hit the turbo button, staunchly keeping pace as the frenetic set slammed down its smash after smash… As did a couple of wayward moshers who took out the odd unsuspecting bystander (this reviewer included). It was all in good spirits though, and didn’t sully what was a red hot gig from a bunch of guys who seemed to really dig what they were doing – and certainly aren’t too old for this sh-t.

The only letdown? No Karmadrome. Seriously, a Poppies gig with no Karmadrome! We waited and waited, expecting it as the explosive finale, but instead we got a cover of The Prodigy’s Their Law. It was good, but it was no Karmadrome. Still, we guess it’s always inside us all…

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