The Vasco Era + Simon Carter – Oxford Art Factory (17.04.10)


In the years that followed the success of their breakthrough debut LP, Oh We Like To Be Beside The Seaside, Australia has eagerly awaited new material from Melbourne’s The Vasco Era. Finally, they have returned, emerging with a new album, Lucille, and an energy that sees them reborn. It had been well over two years since I last had the opportunity to see the Melbourne three-piece, and so it goes without saying that I was looking forward to the show…

But first up were fellow Melbourne act Big Scary. I didn’t get to the venue in time to see the duo, but you can read more about the band in our review of their Metro show (supporting the Editors) back in January [HERE]! 


Simon Carter (ex The Cops, pictured above) was up next, playing tracks off his newly released album The Black Book of the Universe, with 5 piece backing band “The Pop Tarts” (who the prior night were known as “The Ring Worms”). I couldn’t quite get my head around the performance to be frank. Back in the days of The Cops, there was a rawness to the material that made it accessible. Sure, it was nothing groundbreaking, but it was unapologetic rock and roll – you knew what you’d get before you walked into the room. Here the tone felt sporadic. 

His backing band were best when they jammed, but 5 members felt a bit of overkill. The keyboardists seemed to both be playing the same notes at most times, rendering their sound fairly redundant. And with each song bearing a fairly different vibe, Simon experimenting with different sounds, you just couldn’t keep up. What this resulted in was a set without the room to build cohesive energy or a relationship with the audience. And when he ended his set with “Call Me Anytime” – one of the more successful Cops tracks – I couldn’t help but wonder why he seemed to be trying so hard to distance himself musically from his past. There was something that just worked there, and for me at least, the same can’t be said for the new material.


The Vasco Era (pictured above) arrived on stage to rapturous applause, the crowd full of fans and friends, well versed in their material, waiting anxiously to see the band return to the Sydney stage. The set weighed heavily on the new album Lucille, with Tom from Big Scary playing keys to help out on some of the more developed numbers. “Oh Sam” off Lucille was an easy highlight, with a cover of “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road” – one of the more underloved Beatles tracks – also proving a success. They threw a bit of “Happiness is a Warm Gun” into “When It First Showed Up”, too, and covered “Jack The Ripper” by Screaming Lord Sutch (more recently made popular by the Horrors). “When You Went” was another Seaside track to make an appearance.

There was a lot more mayhem on stage that I remember – they were jumping around like there was no tomorrow – Sid occasionally sitting down to jam on the slide guitar – Ted ending the show crowd surfing (see picture below!) – Michael bashing the shit out of his drums, screaming into the mic along the way. It was pure energy from start to finish.


But there is no energy like what comes at the end. As it did in 2007, their set ended with ‘Honey Bee (When It Was Making Wierd Love Songs)’. It remains a song of pure, catchy energy – with both the band and the crowd screaming and dancing in unison. It’s not easy for a band to have the perfect set closer – but they’ve definitely found it in ‘Honey Bee’. And it’s so perfect, in fact, that not only do they not bother with an encore – you have to agree that they don’t need one, either. 

It was an hour long set of kick arse rock and roll, one that I hope appears more frequently in our fine city. Next time I’ll be more familiar with album deux, I promise!

Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.