I’ve always thought the best route to peace, love and understanding was a Gibson and a Marshall stack. So here’s a thought: instead of sending SEAL teams prowling around the world to put bullets in ears, how about we send Jeff Martin and his 777 brethren instead? Line the anti-social motherfuckers up against a wall and blast them with good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll till they see the light? And if that doesn’t work, we could strap them to the bass drum and play, say, ‘The Grand Bazaar’ until their chests explode, because even evildoers deserve to die with a song in their heart..
Which is my way of saying that last night’s gig from aforementioned Martin and Co. was brilliant fun.
With long-coated Jay Cortez grooving on bass and Malcolm Clark working up a hell of a sweat on drums, and most effective guest appearances by a chap called Rory who played a damn mean harmonica, Martin unleashed his latest venture at Melbourne’s Prince Bandroom in St Kilda. It’s a great venue, with two bars and a terraced floor and an elevated stage, and my usual power for attracting dickwads flagged so it was only some fool drunk in a cap pestering other people near me and the usual twats with iPhone cameras causing distraction.
Despite a forthcoming tour in Canada, the Tea Party seems to be becoming a thing of the past, because last night’s gig paid very little attention to the catalogue (although, it seems Melbourne got quite a different set list to Brisbane): instead, the 777 played pretty much their entire debut album (I’ve reviewed it here). Admittedly, it carries a lot of signature Tea Party elements, so maybe the shift isn’t that great.
There wasn’t a great deal of chatter last night — Martin’s voice was scratchy thanks to days on the road with this tour — but the music did the talking, and it was talking about moving on. In a set that went for at least an hour and a half, there was only a handful of Tea Party tunes, popping up towards the end. ‘Grand Bazaar’ and a wonderfully rolling, rollicking ‘Black Snake Blues’ formed the encore. Other old and recent tunes included ‘The Messenger’, ‘I Love You’ and ‘Shadows on the Mountainside’.
Coming off the disc, The Ground Cries Out is a solid and engaging album, but yes, it’s covering familiar ground. Live, though, it’s a rock ‘n’ roll beast: anthemic title track, slinky ‘The Cobra’ with Martin taking to the guitar with a bow, string-pickin’ ‘Riverland Rambler’ for a quieter moment, shades of blues and Hendrix and India and Persia, sexy rhythms and Led Zeppelin shadings, of course, right down to the double-neck guitar. With added theremin.
It’s worth noting that those dirty rhythms were also on offer in the immediate support, The Eternal: hell of a sound for a three-piece and worth checking out.
Usually I come away from a Martin gig — whether Tea Party or Armada or solo concoction — with a touch of the profound buzzing somewhere deep inside — a connection — but last night I was left with a different buzz: more physical; external rather than internal. Still, there’s no argument: the 777 have truly taken flight. Ten hours since the gig finished and my ears are still ringing…