The Stems @ Deville’s Pad 02/10/09

Farewell gigs these days can be taken with a grain of salt, but with The Stems’ members scattered around the country and pursuing different interests (not always musical), you can probably take this one to the bank.

Cabaret club styled Deville’s Pad is decorated like a hybrid of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Bat Cave and The Ghost Train complete with side stage Go-Go dancers in cages. It seemed an appropriate venue for the band; which they themselves admitted. It holds around 350 people and the multi-tiered interior allows for great viewing and with good sound and the friendliest and most helpful door staff in Perth, it’s a venue that should be visited even if it’s just to encourage the development of something different in Perth.

Starting out proceedings were The Painkillers with stalwart James Baker on drums and Joe Bludge on guitar and vocals.They warmed up the attentive and patient crowd with their own brand of alt-country rock.They were well received and played with passion and energy but one can’t help but ponder the limitations of a two piece band in this particular setting.

Finally the clocked ticked over to 11.15 and the near capacity venue was greeted with the arrival of The Stems who without any further ado launched straight into live favourite Mr Misery followed by Hellbound Train from 2007’s Heads Up. Having set the scene for something old and something new, they literally and figuratively never missed a beat from there. Though, judging by all the singing-along this was not an event attended by the simply curious but by the ever faithful who were definitely feeling the love.It would have taken a particularly insipid performance by the band to ruin this show. Thankfully, exactly the opposite was the case.

With all the animosity of the 1980’s bust up and oh-so serious rock poses long buried, this was a band finally comfortable in its own skin and more than happy going out on its own terms.There were a lot of smiles and laughter between the members onstage and Mariani and Lane bantered with the audience often -even taking requests at the end.

It would be an even money bet on who was having the most fun – the band or the audience.

The old favourites were wheeled out with the highlight being the mid-set duo of first single Make You Mine and a rollicking version of Move Me. It was no Greatest Hits set; quite a few tracks from their second album got a look in and were greeted with enthusiasm from the crowd but it’s fair to say that the older tracks got the biggest cheers.

This was obviously a show where the band intended to rock out and none of their slower tracks got a run with At First Sight and She’s A Monster glaring omissions.The band however have rehearsed some 40 songs for this farewell tour and they can’t all be accommodated in a 75 minute set. Lane told the crowd they’d be altering the set list between farewell gigs, so if you went to more than one, there’s a fair chance you heard all your personal favourites.

Only one cover was played; the perennial Easybeats favourite Sorry with Stepping Stone saved for another time.

In a moment of genius and irreverence during the inevitable encore when Mariani couldn’t convince Matthews to sing lead vocals for only the second time in the band’s history, laconic beat master Shaw volunteered to sing a song he had long ago written for the band called On The Beach. After agreeing, Mariani introduced the song as the band’s “cheeseist ever” and went to stage left to leave Shaw to sing his surf-rock stomp and with the band in full cry the crowd ate it up. An unusual but fitting end to a fantastic show.

So after around 75 minutes the band exited the stage for the final time to rapturous applause and cheering, a fully satiated crowd made their way home and the Go-Go dancers could finally have a well earned rest.

R.I.P. The Stems.