The Cops, The Howling Bells, The Kits @ Club 77, 06/08/05

It was only the second time I’d set foot in Club 77 in Kings Cross, in my old playground Sydney, and I’m already seeing familiar faces. I thought that only happened in Brisbane! The first time I was here, Paul Banks from band Interpol was sitting next to me, and from that I figured this is the new hip hang out for indie Sydney kids.

First to grace the almost stage tonight, is band The Kits. I’d heard of them, but never heard their music, and i’m always excited when I get to experience new local musicians. This Melbourne band start off, disloyal to their home town by telling the audience that Sydney people are hotter than Melbournians! If it wasn’t so cliche and if I actually lived in Sydney, I guess it could have been nice… But wait a minute, that was just an introduction to one of their songs, apparently about hot chicks, well that explains it.

With a bit of a twirl, a breakdance and a complete floor spin freak-out [and this is just from the guitarist], the boys leave what was a nice little rock’n’roll show.

Wait a minute, it looks like Waikiki, it even kind of sounds like Waikiki, but it seems they are not introducing themselves with this name anymore. After some major Triple J investigation, I found out Waikiki have a new spin-off band named The Howling Bells, and they were the next band to play tonight. This was a nice surprise, seems I haven’t seen Juanita Stein [one of the coolest rock chicks in Australia], since Waikiki opened for No Doubt’s Rock Steady tour, many a year ago. The band’s sound is quite the same as I remember but with a little more rock thrown in. The set consisted of great pop/rock tunes you can sway to, also with rock’n’roll sounds making the crowd dance, then into a great slow burning ballad. It’s a good thing that Juanita is making a comeback, she definitely deserves to be remembered as a great woman of local music.

Juanita’s is not the only one to comeback tonight, the crowd that is filling Club 77 is obviously here to witness The Cops come back. This is after much talk of alleged new recordings and one departure of a pivotal member of the band. Tonight is the night the band will showcase their new tunes for the first time in their home town. After they set up relatively quickly, the swift moves of the three charasmatic front crew; Andrew [guitar], Cartel [lead vox, guitar] and Rebecca [bass], carry on without the cop that flew the coop. I have to say, it does look a little empty on the stage without Jimmy Stacks, but he is replaced by a talented keyboardist, whom unlike Jimmy, prefers to linger in the back.

When the Cops critically acclaimed debut album Stomp On Tripwires made a major splash onto Aussie radio and onto the Australian live music circuit, I was quite sure the Cops would take this much deserved hype overseas, as the likes of Jet and The Morning After Girls had already done. But the Cops remained in Australia and in turn this earned them a very loyal cult following, which has remained relatively small in each state, but keeps growing. For this reason though, it could be easy for them to change the direction of their sound, without to much fuss. Maybe only a dedicated Cops fan could tell, but they seem to have done just that, but only slightly. It seems they haven’t ventured off into different genres, as on Stomp On Tripwires, and they want to now just stick to good old rock’n’roll, which was the basis of their past music anyway. Again though, you can never judge what the Cops recording sound will be like by their live performances, the two are significantly different for this band, and the same could apply for the Cops upcoming album.

The set runs well with the Cops manager, guitar tech, great friend of the band being a champ and always keeps things running as smoothly as possible on stage. Even when a photographer leans over Bec’s amp to take a picture of Nick, the drummer, only to unplug her bass half way through a song! Ah, you can only laugh, not Bec though, she’s a woman that will bite if she’s provoked.

All photographers aside, they continued to file through new songs, such as; Salt Shaker and Sussanna which all, in their own way, still hold the Cops signature sound. But suddenly I realise somethings missing, HOLD UP! There is no sight of the sixth member of the band tonight, the Cow Bell! Oh but it’s alright, the sweet sounds of Dirty Little Rebel, put me back into the Wallet/Puffa/Smokes/Keys days. That was a great era for the Cops, and i’m looking forward to moving on to the second era with this great Australian band. Fear not, I have faith that the bang bang of the Cow Bell will make a return one day.