Project Description

GILBY CLARKE

@ Basement Canberra

(2 December 2017)

Live Review

Reviewer – Benjamin Smith

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Gilby Clarke is an old school rocker steeped in the Rolling Stones tradition of blistering grooves and white hot riffs. Tonight, as Canberra’s Basement plays host to his particular brand of blues-based rock, Clarke is backed by a band of local misfits assembled specifically for the task.

Opening proceedings are Canberra act Johnny Roadkill, a band raised on a healthy diet of AC/DC. They play a short but sharp set with plenty of power, especially from vocalist Davey Wine. Following Roadkill are central coast act Screaming Eagle, a five piece, double-guitar act who make ballsy, pub rock the way only Australian’s can.

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The real surprise of the evening are Lillye, a four piece fronted by Virginia Lilly the tiny frontwoman with the volcanic vocal talents and persona to match. Having cut their teeth in venues all over Sydney, they’re a band with rock n’ roll as an ethos, not just a sound. Hardworking and committed their dedication comes through in the sheer energy of their set from start to finish.

By the time Clarke and Co hit the stage a little after 10 the crowd is primed. Humble as he his, Gilby takes a space to the side of his own stage and willingly gives up both guitar and vocal lead throughout the course of the set. The four piece play a mix of old Gn’R tracks, a few of Gilby’s solo numbers and of course a couple of stones covers. Sometime midway through the show Clarke calls Virginia Lillye back to the stage to take lead vocals on Sweet Child o’ Mine, which she completely fucking nails.

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The ensemble-style set was a good lesson in how not to let ego fuck things up, but in truth a little more Gilby might have been nice. More of his solo work, more of the Spaghetti Incident stuff he was instrumental in, more Gilby at centre stage. That aside “Only Rock n’ Roll”, “Dead Flowers”, “Tijuana Jail” and The Who’s “Won’t get Fooled Again” were all highly satisfying. The highlight though was their performance of ‘It’s So Easy”. Having started the year with Guns n Roses playing the enormous ANZ stadium it’s a killer end to 2017 to round things out seeing the songs given a nuts n bolts treatment and “It’s So Easy’ is a perfect snapshot of a band at the height of its rock n‘ roll powers.

The great thing about a musician like Gilby Clarke is that it really is about the music. The riffs are king and there isn’t a note played just for the sake of it, everything- every lick, is there to serve the song. Its how rock n’ roll is supposed to taste.

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