It was always going to be a good night with the Hard-Ons. A bunch of local bands were there to get the night going, beginning with classic hardcore tones of Loud Goes Bang who were just stoked to be up there supporting their teenage idols, they played hard too. We were then introduced to Raygun Mortlock’s dry, abrasive sense of humour which was nothing if not amusing, with a late ’80s Australian punk rock vibe to back it up. The final support band HITS were less amusing but still rocked, with an eclectic style, complete with dual rock-chick guitarists. The frontman, however, suffered from a desperate want to be Iggy Pop and Jim Morrison’s love child.
Then it was time for the mighty Hard-Ons, who had been manning the merchandise stand up until this point, to take the stage. They may be 30 years older than when they started, but they sure don’t seem it. Peter ‘Blackie’ Black put the other guitarists to shame with his trademark mix of feedback and frantic playing. Bassist Ray Anh looked like a headbanger half his age, shredding the bass lines, at times with the guitar on his back. Keish de Silva got better and better as he settled in, returning to the band with style, out the front and not tied to a drum kit. A quick complaint about the sound though: although they may be the kind of band who wants everything to be louder than the vocals, Keish was hard to hear at times, the mix hadn’t been great for a couple of the openers either. The PA was, of course, suitably cranked. Taking Keish’s place on the drums was the rock-solid and relatively new member of the band, Murray Ruse.
With their reunited line up, the Hard-Ons smashed through a set made up of the old stuff, with the album Yummy! making quite a feature. They had extended jams on a bunch of the songs, where Blackie’s guitar playing really stood out. The shirts came off a few songs in, except for Keish’s strangely, and so did many in the crowd. The band showed genuine appreciation to everyone for coming out and being a part of their anniversary. The crowd seemed pretty appreciative too, and although it wasn’t a packed house – the Cooly is a fairly big venue – that left a bit of room for some punters to go wild up the front. They had to keep running back in too, as the band played two encores. The first consisting of a humorously unorganised attempt to take crowd requests, and the second finishing the night with an extended jam on the much-loved Suck ‘n’ Swallow.
I don’t know how many new Hard-Ons fans were born this night, most folks had a decent few years on me, but the band have sure earned their place in Australian music history and showed it with a stellar performance. And all for a measly $20 a head.