The Beasts of Bourbon @ Metropolis Fremantle (17/06/07)

The Beasts of Bourbon, in their on-again off-again history, have elevated live Aussie pub rock to an art form. While other veterans of the scene are starting to slow, Tex Perkins, Charlie Owen, Spencer Jones, Brian Hooper and Tony Pola seem to get better every time out.

Touring in support of the recently released Little Animals, and just back from a series of US dates, the Beasts were in fine form on the last night of their Australian tour. Coming out onto a stage well-stocked with local brews, the tone was set with the punk swagger of I Don’t Care About Nothing Anymore, the opening track and first single from Little Animals.

The jangling opening riff of crowd favourite Chase the Dragon, from 1991’s The Low Road, was met with much enthusiasm. Newer material followed: I’m Gone and I Told You So on either side of Just Right.

A jazz-inspired interlude, where Spencer and Owen got a chance to show off their considerable chops, led into Make ‘Em Cry, then the delicious mock seriousness of Little Animals’ title track, a highlight of the evening. Smoking ban be damned – a song like that doesn’t work without a thick layer of cigarette smog hovering above the stage, which Perkins was happy to provide.

Then it was back to up-tempo business. The crowd response to new songs like The Beast I Came to Be and New Day of the Dead, mixed in with older songs like Straight Hard Long and Hard For You, show how likeable the new material is.

After leaving the stage, the band of course came back for their encore – the heart-felt Saturated, followed by Finger Lickin’, and then party tune Let’s Get Funky. The attitude-laden I’m a Drop Out, which had the audience singing along, even if most only knew how to belt out the chorus, might have been an obvious closer, but the set in fact ended with Thanks. The quirky closing track from Little Animals, where Perkins and Jones take turns giving a special message of appreciation for an assortment of substances, left the crowd in no doubt about what they had just witnessed: the Beasts are back. Nothing more needs to be said.