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Howzat! Archive - June 2nd 2010

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"If I was a music journalist, how would I describe that gig?" ponders Penny Ikinger as she takes the Retreat stage after Ronnie Peno has debuted his new band, RSVP and The Return To Senders. "Cinematic, classic, a bit retro, hip," Penny states, reeling off the words that come to mind. Then she asks the crowd for help. "Psychedelic," suggests one woman. "3D," proffers another. "Peno vision," cries one voice, which might belong to the man himself. "Peno envy!" Penny smiles. "I think 'Peno vision' might win the competition." A friend sees me writing down the descriptions. "Add one to the list," he demands, "national treasure."

More than 25 years after Died Pretty's debut disc, Ronnie Peno is working on his first solo album. It's a case of "Where's Ronnie?" as the Retreat night starts, with The Return To Senders - producer Cam Butler on guitar, Andy Papp on bass, Tim Deane on keys and Brett Poliness on drums - opening with an instrumental. As the door at the side of the stage swings open, the anticipation builds. Several people stream in from the beer garden before Ronnie makes his entrance. As he finally hits the stage, the crowd starts to applaud. He's back - the redoubtable Ronnie Peno.

In a music world where originality is in short supply, Ronnie is a one-off. He commands the stage. The tongue is out as he swaggers from side to side. But these aren't rehearsed rock moves; Ronnie gets lost in the music. He feels it. And then there's that voice, such a wonderful pop voice. Ronnie glides effortlessly from mournful to celebratory. He's capable of swinging from beauty to brutal (I recall seeing Died Pretty featured in the hard rock section in Cash Box magazine), and tonight also has moments of true tenderness and seduction. I'm not sure what the new songs are called (Ronnie debuts nine) but they're good. This is going to be a great album. Ronnie's firmly focused on the future - the closest the preview gigs come to the past is when Brisbane band The Good Ship does a cover of Died Pretty's biggest chart hit, Harness Up, at the Old Bar show.

Howzat!'s friend John Cain, who's seen countless Died Pretty gigs, is surprised by how small Ronnie is in real life. "He's tiny," John remarks, "but on stage, he's 10-foot tall." On the way out of the Retreat gig, we bump into Ronnie's publicist, Karen Conrad. "I think one of the reasons I love him is because I come from a Pentecostal background in the US," Karen explains, "and Ronnie is a little like a snake oil salesman. I'm not sure what he's selling, but I'm buying." He's got one more sneak preview gig before he enters the studio: Yah Yah's at 8pm on Sunday. No need to RSVP - tell 'em Ronnie sent ya!

Sydney's finest pop band Lazy Susan returned to Melbourne last week to preview their fourth album, Places That Made Us. It was their first visit in nearly four years. At Pure Pop, singer Paul Andrews spoke of seeing Liam Finn support Wilco in Sydney. "He said, 'I've got my slingshot here tonight', and we all laughed," Paul recalled. But Liam did actually have a slingshot and he proceeded to shoot tomatoes at the crowd. Paul reckons "slingshots and tomatoes is the new banter - you heard it here first. But I'm sure if we did it, we'd hit someone in the eye and end up with a lawsuit. Or we'd be pummelled by someone's boyfriend after splattering tomato juice on his girlfriend's blouse." Paul and keyboards player Tim Byron were in fine form playing their bittersweet pop, though Paul was thrown by the appearance of King of Pop Dave Graney, forgetting some of the lyrics of new song Jailbird Sings. Paul and Tim did a few bars of Short People, as a tribute to Gary Coleman, as well as a cover of Steve Forbert's Romeo's Tune. Places That Made Us is out on July 2.

The Resignators' new single, How You Could Rage, includes "A Frankston Love Song", I Farken Love You. The Resignators are taking their psycho-ska to Canada, where they're making their second album. Their farewell show is this Friday at the Evelyn.

Yolanda Be Cool leap into the Top 5.

We Speak No Americano YOLANDA BE COOL (number five)
Mr Mysterious VANESSA AMOROSI (16)
Unbroken STAN WALKER (24)
Seventeen JET (31)
Love Lost THE TEMPER TRAP (33)
Dinosaur KISSCHASY (38)

Huge debut for Brisbane band Dead Letter Circus. And Dan Sultan's Get Out While You Can finally enters the Top 100, at number 90 - six months after it was released.

This Is The Warning DEAD LETTER CIRCUS (number two, debut)
Iron Man 2 AC/DC (three)
Down The Way ANGUS & JULIA STONE (nine)
Golden Rule POWDERFINGER (15)
Bliss Release CLOUD CONTROL (20, debut)
April Uprising THE JOHN BUTLER TRIO (21)
Conditions THE TEMPER TRAP (23)
Calling Me Home SARA STORER (28)
Compass MARK VINCENT (31)
Hazardous VANESSA AMOROSI (35)
Avalanche BRITISH INDIA (38)
Enchanted Way DAVID HOBSON (39)
Koonyum Sun XAVIER RUDD (40)

Easy Targets LAZY SUSAN
The Gambler WAGONS

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