Photo: Chelle Carr, Rock Shots Photography
‘Blood, Sweat and Beers – The Concert’ is three hours of some of the hardest hitting rock to come out of the Australian pub rock scene, performed by a group of musicians who were actually a part of it all. With a current line-up including members of AC/DC, The Angels, Rose Tattoo and Screaming Jets, Blood Sweat and Beers is not just some cover band belting out the hits. They are, as Angry says in our recent interview, ‘the real deal!’
“The concept ,” he explains, “was to put together a line-up that will change members from time to time, according to who is available, to present arguably some of the best pub rock music to come out of Australia.” And the bands are featured in Blood, Sweat and Beers, according to Angry, are mostly those bands; Choirboys, The Angels, AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, Ted Mulry Gang, to name a few. “Australian pub rock in the last few years has become the subject of interest for a couple of books, one of which is the name of our show. Blood, Sweat and Beers is a book by Murray Engleheart. He wrote a book pretty much on the Alberts stable which of course we belong to.”
The current line-up also includes Grant Walmsley from Screaming Jets. “Grant was one of the founding members of The Jets and one of the major songwriters and,” Angry tells me, “I didn’t know this, but they had a mild flirtation with Alberts in the early days. Their association is not as well-known and not as productive as the other names in the line-up represented by their songs but they were certainly involved and Alberts was giving them their start in the early days.”
Former AC/DC bass player Mark Evans joins the band’s engine room on bass. “Actually,” laughs Angry, “he rang me in the middle of the night the other night. He was in a pub in Scotland. He’d obviously had a few.” Mark was in Scotland for the 10th annual Bonfest which is held in Bon Scott’s birthplace Kirriemuir to honour the singer. “Apparently, this is not the first time he’s been; he goes over to play and feature in Bonfest. Bon’s legacy is so large.”
He remembers when Bon introduced him to the music of Alex Harvey. “We talked about this on many a drunken night,” he recalls. “Bon said ‘Have you ever heard of a guy called Alex Harvey?’ I said ‘No’. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘he’s a Scotsman and he’s got this band called the Sensational Alex Harvey Band and he’s one of the great street poets’. He likened us to street poets. We wrote story songs and we captured pictures of what it’s like; life on the street, particularly from a boy’s point of view where we didn’t dwell too heavily on the love songs. That’s the reason I’ve always so strongly identified with Bon’s songs. I can sing with commitment the songs that Bon wrote the lyrics for that I sing in our set; they’re the songs I can actually identify with, that I can sing as if I’d actually written them myself. I handle the AC/DC part of the show and the Rose Tatts part of the show. James Morley does The Angels and he sings a couple of AC/DC songs that I don’t. James Morley was with The Angels. He’s an all-rounder, James. He’s a good guitar player but he played bass with The Angels and so he plays bass and guitar, depending on which songs we are doing.”
Rose Tattoo is represented by Angry as well as guitarist extraordinaire, Dai Pritchard who has played with some of the biggest names in music including Jimmy Barnes, Glen Shorrock of LRB, Doug Parkinson and even Olivia Newton-John and the late, great Billy Thorpe.
And Melbourne drummer Greg Aldridge, from ‘Destroy She Said’, rounds out the band nicely, thank you.
“The interesting thing about Blood, Sweat and Beers is that the line-up can change from one group of gigs to another, depending who’s available. Sometimes one person or sometimes two might not be available so we can do slightly different shows each time we go on but it’s always the core. It’s Blood, Sweat and Beers. Tatts did an album, years ago, called Blood, Sweat and Beers which is a live album. This is in the early 90s when we first started touring again overseas. We did a live album of that name and Murray borrowed the name for his book. I’ve read most, if not all, the books on Australian rock and Murray’s is the most authentic when it comes to depicting the great pub rock bands like the Oils and Chisel.”“The great thing about the Blood, Sweat and Beers show is that there’s not a song that you don’t know. There’s not a song that you don’t sing. We find that, wherever we play, you could stop at any time and the audience is just singing along with you. It’s just one of those really joyous occasions. Since we started the band, we’ve had such a real interest. People might think at first ‘Oh yeah, we’re going to hear all these songs’ but there’s an authenticity attached to it because the people in this line-up were actually there. You can say ‘This is the real deal.’”
And that is the difference here. As Angry points out, “We are doing covers but we’re doing covers of our own songs and we’re also doing covers of the ‘family’ that we all belong to or came from; the Alberts family. Angry is proud to be a part of that family and still thinks that Alberts is the greatest label to belong to. “It’s a celebration of Alberts and the family that we all belong to. Belonging to the Alberts label was a very ‘clanny’ thing. It’s survived to this day. I’m very, very proud to be a part of it because it’s a very exclusive family and/or club to belong to.”
He believes that Alberts have produced some of the greatest artists this country has seen. He points out other Alberts artists and songwriters like Harry Vanda and George Young, not to mention Stevie Wright as well as Ted Mulry and TMG. Future shows will be incorporating the music of these artists into the set, with a slightly different line-up. “I work with Ted’s brother, Steve, in his band, Black Label. They’re a mighty little band in their own right.”
“The great thing about the show,” says Angry, “is the vibrancy; the energy; the electricity, if you like. It’s a mighty band. It’s a band that really lives up to the reputation of that era. I mean, it’s a real crackin’band! And the great thing about it is that we all have so much fun! Well, why would we do it if we were just going through the motions? You’d be shot down in flames. We just love doing it and that’s the joy. One of the things that is constantly said when we do the meet and greets after the show is ‘Jeez! You guys have a ball!’ and we do… and it shows. And that’s rock ‘n’ roll.”
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2016. All rights reserved
You can see the upcoming Blood, Sweat and Beers tour dates here