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Review: Craig Eriksson Photos: Jason Rosewarne

It’s not the number of years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years. Formed back in 1974, Radio Birdman certainly adopt this mindset as they still play rock n roll like they did back in their youth 50 years ago, proving age is a state of mind and certainly no barrier.

Last night at the iconic and historical Croxton Bandroom we experienced Radio Birdman celebrate 50 years as a band. An incredible achievement and a band that will go down in Australian rock n roll hall of fame history as one of the pioneer Australian bands of punk/surf/garage/hard rock bands that influenced, inspired and shaped many bands to follow.

A wonderful legacy to leave for the youth today and a warm fuzzy feeling in the hearts and souls of us old rocker fans that have been there throughout their rock n roll journey.

Radio Birdman’s journey was not smooth over the 50-years as they were faced with many highs, lows, struggles, multiple hiatuses and reformations, band line-up changes and side projects along the way. Thankfully they have managed to stay true to the band and their unique style of music and reach this incredible milestone.

First up, I feel it’s worth providing all you punters and lovers of music with a bit of music history to kick start this review.
The Croxton Bandroom ‘The Croc’ in Thornbury, Melbourne has an incredible history. Originally opened as the Pilgrim’s Inn in 1844, the pub changed its name to Croxton Park Hotel in the 1860s. It went through many incarnations and served as a full time music venue during the 70s & 80s. What’s mega cool about The Croc is that when you step inside the bandroom you get a feel and sense of its history. It still has sticky floors and a grungey feel about the place. It blows my mind to think that I’m standing in the venue that has had hosted iconic Australian bands like: AC/DC, Cold Chisel, Skyhooks, The Angels, Sherbet, INXS, Midnight Oil, Rose Tattoo, Mondo Rock, Men At Work and many, many others including the mighty Radio Birdman on several occasions.

Radio Birdman last played at The Croc five years ago with Died Pretty and Kim Salmon. A very memorable show for many. R.I.P Ron S Peno from Died Pretty, gone far too young and sorely missed.

Congratulations to Radio Birdman on the big FIVE-O and providing us fans with a wonderful diverse range of wonderful rock n roll music over the past 50 years. I say rock n roll rather than punk rock as in my recent interview with Deniz Tek, he strongly pointed out that they are much more than just a punk rock band. They are a 6-piece band that deliver a diverse range of rock n roll music that does not fit under one specific music genre.

This was very clear and obvious this evening. Radio Birdman delivered a wonderful catalogue and broad range of their rock n roll music from their 3 albums – Radios Appear, Living Eyes and Zeno Beach.

The stage backdrop was their very distinguishable flag which still remains a mystery of what it symbolises. Deniz apparently came up with the design pre-Radio Birdman. The design appears to me to be two giant wings with a flying saucer in the centre circle. If you projected this into the sky it would resemble like a bat symbol. I’ll leave it up to you to contemplate what you think it may symbolise.

In no particular set order, hearing the boys play songs like Burn My Eye, Do the Pop, Aloha Steve & Danno, New Race, Man with the Golden Hemet, Decent into the Maelstrom, More Fun, Breaks My Heart provides for an incredible evening of live music.

It was wonderful to see lead singer Rob Younger and his lifetime buddy and guitarist Deniz Tek play these songs with a solid tight band of incredible musicians –
Deniz Tek – Guitar (1974-1978, 1996-2008, 2014-present)
Rob Younger – Vocals (1974-1978, 1996-2008, 2014-present)
Philip ‘Pip’ Hoyle – keyboards (and original member)
Jim Dickson – Bass (2002-2008, 2014-present)
Nik Reith – Drums (2005,2014-present)
Dave Kettley – Guitar (2014-present)

Lead singer Rob Younger captivates the audience with his own style and unique movements, gazes and poses as he delivers their music. It’s mesmerising and hard to take your eyes off Rob as he moves around the stage as you don’t want to miss out on his stage antics. Rob totally cracked the crowd up when he pulled out his handkerchief on several occasions and blew his nose and made a joke about it. The crowd were giving Rob banter about the handkerchief to which Rob responded: “My handkerchief will be for sale at the Merch Stand at the end of the show.” It was absolutely hilarious and in my 40 plus years of attending live music was a first to witness.

Witnessing lead guitarist and backing vocals, Deniz Tek play was another huge highlight of the evening. You certainly get a feel of the musical influences that Tek brought to the band from bands such as The Stooges and MC5 that played in his hometown near Detroit during Tek’s youth that shaped and influenced Tek and  Radio Birdman to play and perform a fierce, raw, unconventional, uncompromising style of rock n roll.

Drawing on the kindred spirits from these bands forms a style of rock that creates a wildness, high energy and buzz that has punters ‘totally goin off’ to their music, body slamming, crowd surfing and rockin out. It’s electric! If only the government could bottle up this form of electricity as it may solve our current energy crisis and spike in energy bills. Now there’s food for thought! Maybe the next chapter in life for Rob Younger is to become a politician and spokesman for the people and make some positive changes using the same fierce, unconventional, uncompromising style as he has done over the years with the Birdman. Vote #1 Younger

All in all, this was an incredible milestone concert that will go down in Australian rock n roll history and remain fondly in our hearts.

Wandering around The Croc bandroom before and after the show, what was noticeable was the multi-generational bunch of fans, many fathers with their sons, all on an incredible high, beaming with joy and excitement, chatting with fellow punters, talking about their past experiences of seeing Birdman shows. It was a jovial, beautiful vibe to be a part of and full credit to Radio Birdman for leaving us with their music legacy for future generations.

From all your die hard devoted fans and lovers of music, thank you Radio Birdman for your incredible contribution to Australian Rock n Roll History. RESPECT!

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