King O’Malley’s has always been one of my favourite places for live music. The vibe is always excellent, the food is decent and it’s intimate enough that when you haggle the musicians, occasionally they’ll actually play the song that the drunken guy in the back keeps yelling out the name of. (One day, someone will play me a Madonna song and I’ll have no idea how to handle it).
Quite a few people showed up to the pub expecting their usual Thursday night, only to be greeted at the stairs by two Lifeline Volunteers and a $35 cover charge. Most were happy to buy a ticket upon learning that the musician they were paying for would be Angry Anderson, singer of Australian rock band Rose Tattoo, and if that wasn’t enough, they’d be donating all money they raised from ticket sales to Lifeline – instant good karma. The few ‘Cheapskates’ that left (Anderson’s words), or hung around down stairs, missed out on one unbelievable performance.
Opening for Angry Anderson (and also his guitarist) was James Southwell, A Melbourne based blues and roots musician (described as “Ranga funk/soul/ rock/blues”…by James himself) with a mop of long, glorious red hair. Stepping up on to the stage with a cheeky grin, he addressed the audience and introduced himself, ‘Hi, I’m James and I’ll be your ranga for the evening”.
When the band was in gear and the music started, I instantly become engrossed in the sound. How do you describe something that incredible? How to do this amazing musician justice through words, I just don’t think I can. Totally awe-struck, the exceptional talent had me completely stunned silent. James Southwell, the evening’s ranga with his cheeky grin and long red hair had absolutely blown the crowd away within a few minutes of his first song. The blues was evident, occasionally bringing out rock, touching it up with a little soul, every song was a collection of all the best parts of these styles rolled into an hour of electricity on stage. When that EP drops, I’ll be first in line for it.
Following that electrifying performance was the iconic, legendary, pint-sized Angry Anderson himself, Hawaiian shirt-clad, mic at the ready, drink in hand. He first introduced himself, made a couple of dirty jokes and then explained what the show was about and where the money was going. The crowd was enthusiastic about the money going towards Lifeline, but were even more interested after a cute girl grabbed one of the donation tins and started shaking it round, collecting loose change. Either way they got a very generous crowd donation, combined with what they made on the door as well. When Angry started belting out an old rock’n’roll classic, Dirty Deeds, the intimate crowd went a little crazy and the atmosphere in the room spiked – Everyone looked like they were enjoying themselves as much as I was.
Classic after classic, Angry delivered an amazing performance, honouring Australian music in a way that only a true rock n roller can, he even graced us with a few Rose Tattoo singles, ‘Rock and Roll Outlaw’ and ‘Bad Boy for Love’. Punctuating the set with jokes about getting laid, getting drunk and getting high, you wouldn’t expect him to be so passionate about Lifeline and receiving donations for it but he made his point clear to the crowd that he was in it to save lives and that with their ticket purchases, so too were they.
All in all, it’s impossible to fault the duo Ango and The Boy – Their music styles combined and their passion for good music, good booze and a good time made the entire evening one of the most memorable local gigs I’ve had the pleasure of watching. And my starstuck dad (I won’t lie, I was a little taken aback, too) upon meeting the legend Angry himself expressed how proud it made him to be Australian and Anderson mention that he and his daughter go to shows together, too. Turns out this Aussie legend’s not so different from the average Australian bloke – he just wants to make positive difference.