Headliner: Danko Jones
Support: Ellis DeWald + Collins Class
Venue: The Zoo, Brisbane
Review by Rob Garry
Photos taken by Tam Schilling
I’ve been a Danko Jones tragic ever since I took a punt all those years ago on their now classic album “We Sweat Blood”. It was everything that I didn’t know I was missing, namely stripped back rock and roll with a touch of punk. The press for this tour described this Canadian three piece as “Soundwave 2013’s Best Kept Secret”. This reviewer can indeed confirm this bold statement. Catching their set that day was nothing short of spectacular. Even though they fell victim to the dreaded timetable clash always present at festivals, they performed, what to those present would have to agree, was a festival headlining set. In fact, it was one of the greatest sets that I ever witnessed in all my years of going to that much missed gathering. Right there tells you not only the strength of this band, but also perfectly illustrates their no bullshit approach and commitment to the very thing that they do. And if that wasn’t enough, in a world of paid for “VIP Experiences”, the band on this tour have said to come down to the venue early for a Meet n Greet. Class act all the way.
I knew zero about show openers Collins Class. To describe their sound? That’s a tough one. They covered so much musical territory it would be both impossible and unfair to label them as one genre. I could hear everything from Clutch to Oz Rock, with a singing drummer who has a voice that any local front man would be lucky to have.
A fair portion of the crowd clearly came tonight with their dancing shoes ready for Ellis DeWald. These guys are hands down one of Brisbane’s hardest working band. The dynamics of this band is a testament to this work ethic. They displayed a tightness you can only get from putting in the hard yards. Also, it’s great to see a band that clearly enjoys playing together.
Danko Jones hit the stage opening with the killer “I Gotta Rock”, which also served as a mission statement for what those in attendance were about to see. The band is tight, with song changes that would make the Ramones proud. Tonight’s set list features the latest album “A Rock Supreme” heavily which is far from a bad thing. “I’m in a Band” must be the most honest rock n roll song written since “Rock and Roll All Nite” and “It’s a Long Way to the Top”. A drunken call of “You beauty!” led to a momentary breakdown in Australian/Canadian communications with Danko hilariously struggling to comprehend just what the hell was said.
John “JC” Calabrese, the right-hand man and co-conspirator since the very beginning, lays down the solid foundation which this rock circus depends upon. “New” drummer Rich Knox (well, new to us anyway) had some pretty big shoes to fill, replacing the powerhouse that is Atom Willard. Before the first song was even halfway through, I was like “Atom who?”.
Then there is the man himself, Danko Jones. The Rock and Roll Frankenstein- part Paul Stanley, part Dee Snider, part Lemmy, part stand-up comic. The consummate showman. A front man that can engage a crowd like so few of his contemporaries can or could ever hope to. Put simply, his performance is mesmerising. He commands your attention.
This is a band that is the very definition of real. What you see is what you get. Mistakes and technical difficulties are not only acknowledged with these guys, they are celebrated and made a source of amusement.
Tonight, I expected a world class rock and roll show played with 100 percent intensity and commitment, and that’s exactly what I got. They gave it their all, despite a venue in “intimate” mode.
Danko Jones doesn’t just play rock and roll, Danko Jones ARE rock and roll.
Photos taken by @TamCamImages