Paul Collins @ The Tote
It wasn’t the Sand Pebbles that was playing at the Great Britain tonight, but a cut-down, unofficial version of a hiatus-affected band. The repertoire was familiar, the venue set-up unconducive to audience appreciation. The second set promised a power trio of drums, bass and guitar, but sadly our dance card was marked ‘Paul Collins’, and we were back on the road by 10.30pm.
Wolfy And The Bat Cubs – three pin strip suits and a cat suit – were mid-way through a kaleidoscopic journey that just got better and better. A final song ebbed and flowed through psychedelic territory, building to a crescendo, falling to silence, and exploding into the ether.
It took a while for Paul Collins to make his way to Australia, but he was back again for the second time in little over a year. Aside from his tenure in the legendary Nerves, Collins is probably best known for his brief moment in the pop sun in the early '80s when, with the judicious assistance of the critical and popular masses, Collins could have found a comfortable niche in the Billboard charts. As it was, Collins was nudged out by a series of lesser talented contemporaries – including Australia’s very own Rick Springfield – who exploited the time-honoured formula of pop, licks and love.
With his LA pop-mod aesthetic having been eroded by the passage of time, Collins cuts a different figure on stage, but the classic riffs just keep coming: Do You Wanna Love Me, Kids Are The Same, She Doesn’t Wanna Hang, Falling In Love With Her, Rock’n’Roll Girl. It’s infectious stuff, and the crowd – down on last year’s crowd, for reasons that remain largely unfathomable – licks it up, no pun intended. Collins dips into his Nerves catalogue to pull out the glistening powerpop classic Walkin’ Out On Love (someone needs to dig the Trilobites out for a reformation show or two); in the encore, Collins appropriates fellow Nerve Jack Lee’s Hanging On The Telephone and the blue collar pop of Workin’ Too Hard. Collins’ locally recruited band can’t put a foot wrong, and there’s a vague mid-'80s inner-city Sydney pop sensibility in the air. The night ends on a high with Come On Let’s Go, USA and Let Me Into Your Life. This was a lesson in powerpop.
BY PATRICK EMERY
LOVED: Walkin’ Out On Love, as always.
HATED: The fact that more people weren’t here to appreciate the set.
DRANK: Coopers Pale.