"Alone, even doing nothing, you do not waste your time. You do, almost always, in company. No encounter with yourself can be altogether sterile: Something necessarily emerges, even if only the hope of some day meeting yourself again." (E.M. Cioran)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

'The Slits' in Sydney

Well, here was another gig I couldn't ignore - 'The Slits', reformed, playing in Sydney's Gaelic Club last night. Although the line-up was, apparently, supposed to mirror the one on the newly released 3-song EP ('Revenge of the Killer Slits'), with vocalist, Ari Up and bassist Tessa Pollitt (the only 2 original members), Paul Cook (ex 'Sex Pistols') on drums, Marco Pirroni (ex 'Adam and the Ants') on guitar and back-up vocals courtesy of Cook's daughter, Holly; Pollitt's daughter, Phoebe and Mick Jones' (of 'The Clash') daughter, Lauren, this didn't exactly transpire. Instead, we were given an all-female line-up of Ari Up, Tessa Pollitt, Holly (back-up vocals), drummer Anna (?) and two guitarists (pretty sure they were the aforementioned Lauren and Phoebe).

Nice to see a good mix of age groups in the crowd - from teens to 50-somethings, retro-dressed art school girls, old punks, '70s feminists, lots of women - this was an exuberant, fun gig. Ari Up, resplendent in dreads trailing to her thighs and three colourful costume changes was the perfect front-person - enthusiastically dancing and shaking her barely-covered bum - she was all positivity and 'you go girl!' attitude, whilst constantly chatting to her audience and giving away prizes of Jamaican reggae records (yep! she still lives in Jamaica). Continually pulling enthusiastic audience members up to dance with her onstage (affectionately proclaiming them, for the encore song 'Typical Girls' from their seminal 1979 album 'Cut', as her 'typical girls' and typical boys'), her joyful 'girl-confidence' and pseudo-tribal pop-spirituality was never heavy-handed, just sincere and happy. And how cool was bassist, Tessa Pollitt? Wow.

The music was a great mix of their reggae and punk-influenced songs - the older material featured prominently - even one or two tracks from one of their early punk bootlegs, still in my possession. Other highlights included the great 'Newtown' and 'Shoplifting' from 'Cut' and - best of all - a newie called 'Kill Them With Love'. The crowd was generally friendly too. I had good chats with a couple who've been together and married since the punk era, a bunch of teen girls, a couple of 40-something gay guys - one of whom had seen 'The Slits' in London in the late '70s and a cute boy who helped me deflect a 'situation' that occurred with an aggressive, drunk girl and her friends who kept slamming painfully into me like rabid monkeys as I stood in the crowd.

Praise must also go to the second support act, 'Japanther'. I missed the earlier part of their set, but what I saw/heard was hilarious, funky and enormously entertaining. All in all, a great night out.

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