When I heard that Tom Woodward, Konrad Lenz, and Mikelangelo (of Black Sea Gentlemen and Prick-Harness fame) were playing at the Polish White Eagle Club in Turner I was thrilled. The $20 ticket price wasn’t so much a concern to me, as I was worried about being able to get in at all (the last time I’d seen Mikelangelo the venue had been bursting at the seams). So, having wangled my way onto the guest list, I’ll confess to feeling a little guilty when the largish venue only really ever got to half full.
We’d started the night by walking up to O’Connor shops for a pint and a bite to eat at All Bar Nun. A dodgy cover band were playing dodgy covers and the shrill cries of the rugger girls were reaching a crescendo as they re-lived their teenage years and George Michael fantasies.
Well I guess it would be nice
If I could touch your body
I know not everybody
Has got a body like you
Finishing our drinks we sauntered across the road to the Polish club to find (Oh Joy of Joys!) our names were easily identifiable on the guest list. Dazed and confused by not having to engage in mortal combat at the door, I bought Tom Woodward’s new CD (32-20 Blues, review coming soon), wangled an autograph at Konrad Lenz’s suggestion, and settled in for seemingly endless (and endlessly enjoyable) rounds of pint bottles of Zwiecz beer.
Setup was just finishing and it was certainly odd to hear Mikelangelo, onstage The Balkan Elvis, shouting in a surprisingly ocker voice to his sound tech about broken knobs on his pedals.
Having barely had time to settle in, Tom Woodward opened up solo. A lot of people think Tom’s recent musical direction has been Dylan’esque to the point of parody. According to legend the “In The Can” guys at 2XX tried to get Tom and Sanji Dasilva to have an on air “Bob Off” to settle who was the most like Bob Dylan. Tom apparently won the competition by not bothering to turn up.
The interesting thing is the Tom sounds almost nothing like Bob Dylan, he sounds like how we would like to imagine Bob Dylan sounding. He’s also been listening a lot to Robert Johnson (the legendary delta bluesman) to the point of naming his new EP after a Johnson song (32-20).
Enough of comparisons to the dead and the living dead. Tom’s playing a sort of folk/blues with lyrics that resonate with his audience who were hugely appreciative.
Tom then stayed on stage to accompany Konrad Lenz who, fortified with a glass of the Polish Club’s amazing Honey Vodka, gave a growling, ominous performance of his astonishing repertoire. The ghost of Bob Dylan followed by that of Johnny Cash?
The sixties legends were rounded out when the Balkan Elvis himself came on stage to play accordion in support of Konrad.
There was a short break while Mikelangelo changed suits and then he was on stage solo. If you’re curious (and frustrated by my poor powers of description) you can see a video of him in action in 2004 over on Loadedog.
A man blessed with extra-ordinary magnetism and stage presence he mixed smouldering glances into the audience with hilarious banter and an almost terrifyingly phallic use of the acoustic guitar.
Friends leapt onto stage to accompany throughout the madcap set and the audience hung onto every word and note. A particular highlight was Mikelangelo doing karaoke to his own “Formidable Marinade” as remixed by the producer of “The Herd”.
As the hour grew later Tom and Konrad returned to the stage and we decided to call it a night with a school day ahead of us.
It’s a shame more people weren’t there for an enthralling evening, but in a way it made it all the more special for those of us who were there.