I discovered last week that Austen Tayshus was appearing at the Dickson Tradies last Friday, so I decided to get a ticket. A friend did some publicity work for him in Adelaide recently and raved to me about him, and I saw him on tv recently on a banal reality show about aspiring standup comedians in which he reduced one of them to tears, so I thought this has to be worth a look, even in that dive. I haven’t been there since my only visit in 1995, when I had the worst meal of my entire life, with a ham steak that appeared to be a mass of barely ham-flavoured pieces of string glued together, and vegetables that had long ago lost their will to live in that bain-marie. I still shudder…
I couldn’t book online, so I had to go there to get my ticket. Imagine my surprise to find that the whole place is being renovated, and is actually looking quite modern, with more light than the interior has seen since it first opened. There’s even a new chef running the bistro, although its new name (Essence by Livio) sounds more like a skin cream than a place to eat.
I was also surprised to find out that they were offering a ‘two for the price of one’ deal on the tickets, which immediately alerted me to the fact that tickets weren’t moving well. As the man himself had publcily threatened to knife my friend when only 20 people turned up to one of the shows he did in SA, I thought that the prospect of blood on the floor was getting better and made a mental note to sit up the back when we got there.
Sadly, as they used to say in merry old England, you can’t make a silk purse out of a cow’s ear. The food at Livio’s wasn’t too bad, although the fact that the ‘legendary’ Tradies schnitzels are still on the menu was an ominous sign. At least the salad in the salad bar looked fresh and edible, unlike the sad offerings I found last time I was at the Southern Cross Club at Woden. The choice of wines was woeful for this town and this day and age, although the bar is a small temporary one and stuck in a corner. This may improve when the new and much larger bar area is finished.
The inadequate publicity, and I assume the lingering reputation of the Tradies, meant that only 8 tickets were sold, and the club management attempted to pad the audience with a number of Tradies staff and regulars being offered free admission. It was obvious that Tayshus was pretty pissed off from the start, so the smattering of drunks and patrons with questionable mental health histories who attempted to heckle gave the rest of us a good view of the man’s capacity for savage mockery. Why the management had staff sitting there was a mystery, particularly when he kept segueing into caustic diatribes about what a god-forsaken place the Tradies is. The two young guys I saw him talking to before the show started, who looked like junior management, were not enjoying themselves, that’s for sure, although the other young floor staff were having a great time watching them squirm.
The new look might win them some accolades, but they have a hell of a long way to go in turning the Tradies around, and making it a place that will attract new members. Still, can you have a better time than watching a drunk tip over the table he’s sitting on and end up on the floor drenched in the beer from all the glasses that fell off with him?