Posts Tagged ‘larry love’


Awaiting the arrival of their favourite country and western acid house freaks, Bruce and Fran were reassured that even 10,500 miles from their spiritual home in Brixton the 3 still attracted a motley crowd: grizzled men; grizzlier women; grey-haired dads bringing their sons along for enlightenment; fresh-faced (comparatively speaking, of course) newcomers unaware of their imminent conversion.

There was Rock Freebase chatting up a couple of young girls. Through the mob weaved The Spirit of Love, then back again. And then, hang on, if that isn’t Chopper Read… It is. With his wife and kid, the latter covering his ears as the Gun Street Girls tear through their warm up set. Should have expected it, what with harmonica player Nick “Harpo Strangelove” Reynolds having made a bronze “death mask” of him on the band’s last visit to Melbourne. But still, a welcome surprise.

Shortly afterwards, he reappears from backstage to take centre stage, resplendent in a pair of mirrored specs.

“Get ready to welcome the best fuckin’ band to have come out of the UK since the Rolling Stones,” he says, once the techies remember to turn the sound on. “Well, who else has there been? The fuckin’ Rolling Stones and these guys, the fuckin’ Alabama 3.”

The former standover man, more commonly seen these days wandering the streets of Collingwood with an ice lolly in hand or playing footy with his boy in the streets, thereby joins the likes of members of the Birmingham Six and Howard Marks as an A3 MC. As he leaves, the first bars of a souped up Monday Don’t Mean Anything To Me start up. And we’re off.


Since the end of The Sopranos, the band seem to have got a second wind, whether judging by the quality of their last album M.O.R. or the almost constant touring, including appearances at every festival known to man; amazing what the loss of a steady income can do…

It’s paid off. The last time Bruce and Fran saw them in their white rhinestone suits at the end of the M.O.R. tour in the UK they were good but, at times, it felt formulaic. From the outset here, the spark seems to have returned. Throwing Hypo Full Of Love in second up is ballsy, but they back it up. Even Mao, surely the best acid house revolutionary anthem yet penned, is dispensed with early. Ain’t Goin’ To Goa doesn’t even get a look in.

With some of the songs reworked and every attempt to get the crowd singing choruses coming off, it’s a triumphant first Melbourne show for the full lineup. Jake is chipper – and audible, Devlin as soulful as ever, Orlando still the embodiment of the living dead but now with an added dash of ghoulish burlesque about him. He even takes his sparkly gold jacket and leather dog collar for a wander across the stage at one point continuing to look, without luck, for “Jane and Eddie”.

“Calm down,” chides Jake. “Get back in your corner.”

Now that Larry’s allowed his hair and beard to go the same way as his outfits in recent times there are moments, such as when he and Rock fight over a beer, where they look like the kind of rowdy geriatric drunks who would fit into Smith Street seamlessly – something to be encouraged in the world of popular music, surely.

By the time Chopper returns to introduce the encore, conversions are happening across the floor. That Peace In The Valley then makes an all too rare appearance is the ice on the cake before Larry, ever the charmer, thanks every member of staff in the building and launches into Sweet Joy.

As the crowd reluctantly departs, Bruce and Fran chat to folks who’ve travelled hundreds of miles to be there and hope Melbourne had put on enough of a show for a return trip to be planned sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, Rock returns to take his girls from earlier backstage and The Spirit’s apparently fruitless search for Jane and Eddie continues…

*  *  *

A quick rant, if you will:

The Guardian (in particular Duncan Campbell) apart, Alabama 3 have been criminally ignored by the mainstream UK media for years. OK, there’s been the odd album review and some coverage of Nick’s death mask project, but little else. Yet here is a band whose biography (please be writing one, Orlando) could fill several volumes, who live the rock n roll lifestyle and support all manner of fantastic causes, such as the Miscarriages Of Justice Organisation.

Prior to this Australian tour, they received no coverage – not in the mainstream media, not in the street press – and efforts were made. OK, so the Age ran a piece on Chopper being shown his bronze mask at the Toff in Town before Tuesday’s acoustic show but it ran today – the day after their second and final gig – yet still included the line (later corrected online) “Read will introduce the band tonight when it plays at Richmond’s Corner Hotel”.

They don’t have major backing, are impossible to pigeonhole and are in all probability challenging to manage, but they remain unique, retain their passion despite adversity and put on the best parties going, whether stumbling incoherent through an acoustic set or playing to thousands at Glastonbury. If only the myopic could see it.


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So, the live music scene in Melbourne’s pretty awesome, Bruce and Fran have got their tickets in the bag for Falls and Golden Plains and are contemplating a trip to Mount Buller for ATP, curated by Nick Cave, but sometimes you just need a little bit of sweet pretty mutherfuckin’ country and western acid house music all night long to cheer you up.

Having promised Bruce they’d be bringing the full band out to Oz after their initial unplugged tour early in 2008 (during which band member Nick made a cast of Chopper’s head – above), Larry Love has stayed true to his word.

“your favourite old rockers are coming back to Australia, mate”

said the email. Indeed they were; confirmed for the Byron Bay Blues Festival in April. A full tour will surely follow.

Bruce and Fran are giddy. Time to dust down the cowboy hats so they can head to their local tabernacle and sing.

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Bruce and Fran woz there

Bruce and Fran woz there

Seven months after leaving the UK, the one thing Bruce misses is the music scene.

Sure, Melbourne’s got it goin’ on (and an imminent move north of the river should help rectify matters), but there are certain bands who Bruce and Fran pray nightly will announce an antipodean tour: Elbow (and the lovely Guy Garvey, who assured us he had lots of friends in Melbourne), The Aliens (and their high Fifes), Jason Pierce (the Prince of Pathos)…

And the Alabama 3.

Legendary lunatics who’ve been criminally ignored by too many people for too long, they made their first trip to Oz earlier this year in their stripped down acoustic version, but were gone before Bruce and Fran arrived.

Bruce’s last meeting with the band took place after one of their many gigs at Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms late last year. He asked lead singer Larry Love (Rob Spragg) what they planned to bring to Australia.

“Chlamydia and industrial strength crystal methamphetamine,” he replied.

“Ah, STDs and hard drugs,” said Bruce.

“Naaah,” said Larry, maintaining his faux American drawl. “Soft drugs for hard bastards.”

Having just come across the following video shot, it seems, in Melbourne during their brief visit by theloneeskimo, it appears he stayed true to his word.

Although I’m not sure he qualifies as a “hard bastard” at this particular moment. Depends on your definition, really.

Still, come on over, boys (and girl), Bruce and Fran need you.

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