The packed Powerstation in Auckland, NZ was the perfect venue for the trio of The Living End to deliver their unique style of punk rockabilly rock to an audience that was keen to pogo their way through the humid summer night.
Supported by Ekko Park, I caught the last two tracks of a very lively set that had most of the punters giving a good nod to the Auckland four-piece band. With their new album due to be released this year, the band made up of guitarist and singer Joe Walsh, guitarist Alex Hargreaves, drummer Nick Douch and bassist Bryan Bell will be well worth a listen.
A short break followed and then The Living End swaggered onto the stage, gave a shout out to the crowd and unleashed their blend of music that contained elements of the Stray Cats, Green Day, The Clash, and the Sex Pistols into their signature sound and I thought they were tighter than two coats of paint.
Kicking off with Don’t Lose It, the crowd got a taste of what was to come. Driving lead guitar from Chris Chenney, Scott Owen who played the double bass like a man possessed and Andy Strachan smashing the drums. It was a great track to start off with and, as it transpired, a well thought out set list followed leaving little time for the punters to catch their breath during the night.
These guys know how to have fun and, while not flashy, they played an honest brand of rock that would make the most ardent critic smile just a little. Not that I suspect they would give a flying toss what anyone thought. They were here to give the crowd what they wanted and the 18 odd tracks served up a brilliant snapshot of their nearly 25 years of being in the business.
If there was any hint that perhaps some of the audience were not getting into the groove... It all changed when Secondhand Solution jumped off the double bass and Gretsch guitar and the punters went wild. Many sang the song as if they were attending a Sunday sermon and it was brilliant to see the incredibly diverse crowd all contributing to the chorus.
Following that onslaught, the band slipped in State Of Emergency that had a slightly softer finish to their earlier tracks, but still a good sneer none-the-less.
There was a good smattering of songs chosen for the set coming off most of their albums, with a fair few bookended by their latest album Wunderbar, released in September last year, and their debut self-titled album that was released back in 1998.
The interaction from all the band was great and, just before leading in to Otherside, Chenney stated that "you can’t dwell on the past, and the future hasn’t happened yet, it’s being in the now at the Powerstation on a Wednesday night and that’s all good for me", with the crowd showing agreement with hoots and hollers.
It really reminded me why live music is what it is. A moment in time that will never be repeated exactly, surrounded by likeminded people enjoying a band that loves playing for the moment.
There was a great dig at the political nightmare in the States with the poignant Death Of The American Dream pointing out the circus of politics being played out over there and with Loaded Gun, All Torn Down, and End Of The World following, you couldn’t help but think this was more than just coincidence.
The chemistry of the trio was undeniable... while they had their little issues with the drums and Chenney’s earpiece, they never missed a beat and were happy to give each other a little jip from time to time to keep themselves honest.
Wake Up really brought the crowd interaction to life. A battle of the sexes took place with the call for “wake up” from each side to make the best backing vocals of the night. I hate to say it, but the Aarons were all over the Sharons in this exchange. However, it was pointed out to me by one of those Sharons that it seemed to be a ratio of 5 to 1 in the men’s favour. I thought suggesting that sounded about right, but thought better of it. Nonetheless, it was excellent to see everyone getting into it... many of whom I suspect will have a pretty raspy voice back at work the next day.
Drop The Needle, White Noise, and Prisoner Of Society closed the set, with the latter being the song of the night from my perspective. It was just a classic three chord banger that had the crowd and the roof shaking to the foundations.
Then the band were off, then of course back pretty quickly for the encore, which led off with Rock n Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution (nice nod to AC/DC) chords being part of the E Boogie rockabilly roots medley, before finishing off with Uncle Harry who seemed to enjoy relieving himself in the bath. Then they were gone, threatening to bring out a new album and a new tour again shortly.
The Living End left it all on stage. Loving every moment and nowhere near the beginning of the end I would say.
The Living End Set List
- Don’t Lose It
- Second Solution
- Till The End
- Bloody Mary
- Roll On
- Up The Junction
- Death Of The American Dream
- Loaded Gun
- All Torn Down
- Proton Pill
- End Of The World
- Wake Up
- Drop The Needle
- White Noise
- Prisoner Of Society
- Uncle Harry