GIG REVIEW: Peter Bibby | Newtown Social Club (SYD) | 14.5.15

Sunday, May 17, 2015
(Photographer: Teresa Pham)

Right off the bat I need to offer an apology to Big Dingo. I owe you a gig. It’s that simple. 
I arrived at the Social just in time to catch The Dandelion take the stage. A quick soundcheck is always a good place to discover hints of influence. Call me crazy, but for the uninitiated and pedantic, it’s a fun game to play and telling of what may come. And I’ll come back to this later in reference to Mr. Bibby*. But, for now, The Dandelion. Psychedelic rock. It’s a term stapled upon bands that ride the cusp, bands who tinker just enough to cross over, freeing themselves of the double tag and finding a home with just one four-letter word.  Not so The Dandelion. Psychedelic rock. They had me hooked. The nuanced guitar, the keys, drums, the steady (incredibly steady) bass and a lead singer who was coolly enjoying every minute. I couldn’t fault the musicianship nor the energy of this group of four who exuded effortless (dare I say it) professionalism. A command of their craft. Worry only came at the appearance of a flute (well, I have to be honest)… and, call me crazy, but I heard the beginnings of two potential psychedelic covers within the first offerings of said flute: Paint It Black and, later, About A Girl. I don’t know why my ears tweaked to these, but they did. Anyway, that’s a side note should The Dandelion ever want to experiment with a cover or two. I don’t want to drift from The Dandelion as there’s much more to tell. A headlining act they should truly be. 
Now here’s where contrast comes into play. And it doesn’t dilute my opinion of The Dandelion, propelling them into sub-orbit merely because they were the better gig of the night (cat out of the bag?). But,in truth, this was Peter Bibby’s show. A packed house confirmed a loyal fanbase and I was ready for some punk folk, some folklore from the streets of W.A. You know, something honest and raw… maybe something that tugged at the heartstrings a little. Why not, hey? I can only go by what was delivered. And being kinda new to Bibby, I wasn’t in sing-a-long mode. But there’s only too many tales that a youngish guy (25? 26?) can tell of drinking and alcoholism that one can take and it actually makes you question the genuine nature of it all and whether this kid actually needs to do some living before he sings with folksy honesty. Hell, Paul Kelly can sing a tune that relates… if not by subject matter, but by emotional experience. The colloquialism is raw and universal, hence the beautiful appeal of a song like ‘To Her Door’. I don’t know, maybe Mr. Bibby has  found a home in the obvious with almost punk-folk anthem-requested tunes like ‘C*nt’.  And while that tune is somewhat honest and memorable, it’s also quite lazy in that it doesn’t invest in anything but the crudeness of the word and delivery itself. It’s almost as if Kevin Bloody Wilson had decided to edge his career closer to mainstream folk rather than just damn the torpedos and sing songs that eventually made him the sort of Leonard Cohen next to Rodney Rude’s Bob Dylan. 
There was a touch of potential brilliance… and, Mr Bibby, I saw it. ‘Red XF Falcon’ was that offering of honesty. That I believed. A sweet little tale of youthful love (love lost?), a story that many of us can relate to (me, especially… in my case, it was a green XC with a white vinyl roof). Why not track back to that tune and build, creating tunes of similar emotional and connecting appeal? Surely that can’t be your only tale of sorrow, one worthy to write a tune about? Of course, hell, if you want to continue with songs about drinking and all the jazz, go all at it. But give them some depth, at least… and give them honesty. 
For me, The Dandelion took the night’s honours by a landslide. Again, apologies to Big Dingo… I’ll catch you soon. 

*Pop Goes The Weasal as played by Peter Bibby’s bassist during soundcheck.

Written by D. L. Bugeja

Featuring: Big Dingo, The Dandelion
Photographer: Teresa Pham