Melbourne Festival Live Review: Pop Crimes- Foxtel Festival Hub (23.10.14)

Rowland S. Howard would have been 55 on Friday 24th October, a day after the opening of Pop Crimes a tribute to his career spanning more than 30 years. “We’re walking a thin line here. It’s not getting any wider. We’ll be better tomorrow night, don’t forget to book a ticket” exclaims Harry Howard (brother of the late rock icon) while performing the music of Rowland’s first band, The Young Charlatans .

This raw performance possibly reflects a young Rowland S. Howard, whilst he “sang about his neighbours and contemplated his future in Nunawading” in “AKA.” Original Young Charlatans drummer Jeffrey Wegener , the inimitable Mick Harvey on guitar and Angela Howard on bass complete the band as they saunter through “She’s not the Chosen One”,“Broken Hands” and “The Model of Youth.”

For These Immortal Souls , original keyboardist Genevieve McGuckin joins Howard and guitarist J P Shilo , who does an uncanny job of channelling Howard’s tortured guitar sounds. Ed Keupper lends his golden vocals to Black Milk and later “(I Know) a Girl Called Johnny” is performed with aplomb by original vocalist Jonnine Standish , and JP Shilo .

This melancholy masterpiece is one of many highlights, and a testament to Rowland S Howard’s songwriting and musical prowess. Penny Ikinger’s rendition of “Dead Radio” moves the throng while Adalita powers through an impassioned “Shivers.” Hugo Race commands the stage, doing justice to “Exit Everything” punctuated by Brian Hooper’s prominent brooding bass lines, which also characterise “Pop Crimes” with vocals and groovy hand claps courtesy of Harry Howard, whose voice eerily sounds like that of his late brother’s.

From such a rich back catalogue, the closing song “Golden Age of Bloodshed” ends an emotional homage to Australian guitar hero Rowland S Howard who influenced countless musicians in his wake and continues to be an inspiration to many more.


Pop Crimes continues on to Sydney this Saturday at the Metro Theatre. Get all the details here: