Mach Pelican + The Gimmies - The Tote (17.05.09)

Sometimes you get to see something you thought you’d never see again. Like Mach Pelican, who farewelled the Tote almost two years ago in August 07 in their final ever Australian show. After over ten years on the road and with some pending immigration troubles the band decided to call it a day. That night is still one of the best gigs I have ever seen, and I really never thought I’d get the chance to see Mach Pelican again.

It turns out all the immigration troubles were sorted out, however the band respectfully decided to let Mach Pelican rest after the break up. At least until old tour mates the Gimmies booked in a run of shows this month, and Mach Pelican suddenly appeared on the bill for ‘one show only’ at the Tote.

Got to the Tote early, yet somehow the jukebox in the front bar kept us distracted and drinking until just before Mach Pelican’s set. I’ve had a guilty pleasure for the Spazzy’s for a while now, but I guess when the machine was spitting out Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Iron Maiden and Against Me! among others, there’s not too much reason to move.

Mach Pelican took to the stage to a huge cheer from a packed in crowd, and launched straight into the first two songs from their final release Radio Action, Anyway and Radio, before pumping out crowd pleaser Arthur and John. An energetic and vocal crowd joined in and soon the pit was teeming, complete with stage dives and circle pits.

Mach Pelican have an undying love for The Ramones and we were treated to a blistering rendition of Chainsaw, which pushed the crowd over the edge and sounded just as powerful as when The Ramones would have played it 30 years ago. Some might say that Mach Pelican are a bit over the top in their dedication to their heroes, but they do it with a manic energy, relentless speed and great harmonies. Simply put, they were constantly the best live band in Melbourne.

There were more hits as their set went nicely over their allotted time. Dance In Chicago, Airport and set closer Rock n Roll Honesty all got an airing. There were cheers and screams for one more song that never eventuated, and so the sweaty crowd made it’s way into the beer garden to cool off.

A rather strange interlude came up next, when Ally Spazzy took the stage armed only with an old keyboard. She fired up a cheesy preset backbeat, and proceeded to rap about My Adventure before leaving the stage again.

Everyone piled back in as they heard the roar of The Gimmies firing up their guitars, and soon the room was filled with Australian styled hard rock that equally shook the room with it’s chugging chords and pierced the air with it’s wild solo’s. Both guitarists slung vintage instruments over their shoulders and played like men possessed, while the bass player (clad in double denim) high kicked his way through each song, even pulling off an unbelievably low back bend. Despite all of this happening on stage, the crowd did not get that fired up, leading the singer to plead with us halfway through the set “Why won’t you guys just dance?”. All of a sudden, the mood lifted again as the next song kicked off and the pit fired up once again.

They were tight as they played cuts off their new album and also previous release Phonic Souls. While we didn’t get that album’s take on Radio Birdman’s New Race, it was Living on the 16 Shadows that got the biggest response of the night. Unfortunately it all turned a bit sour as the Gimmies singer told the sound guy to cut his foldback ‘because it’s shit’, and then stormed straight out of the venue as soon as the set was over.

I felt sorry for the Gimmies. They played loud and rocked hard, but they always had the tough ask of following one of Melbourne’s most loved punk bands on their home stage.

There’s only one Mach Pelican.