POP EAT WILL ITSELF & JIM BOB (CARTER USM) @ Rosemount Hotel gets 8/10

Pop Will Eat Itself @ Rosemount Hotel
w/ Jim Bob (Carter USM)
Sunday, March 18, 2018

8/10

Pop Will Eat Itself, one of the leading UK indie-alternative acts of the 1990s, returned to Perth after a four year absence and this time bought that charming man, Jim Bob of the equally legendary Carter USM, along for the ride.

Kicking off proceedings, Jim Bob (real name James Robert Morrison) took to the stage in a perfect mismatch of grey formal suit, Hawaiian shirt and Converse hi-tops. Morrison proved to be the all-round consummate performer, holding the the crowd in the palm of his hand throughout his set as he seamlessly alternated roles; from song-smith to comedian, the leader of merry singalongs and master of quick-wit, as he made his way through a set classic Carter tunes on his acoustic guitar.

Jim Bob

Early highlights included Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere, which helped the audience find their football terrace singing voices, the sardonic teenage tale of Let’s Get Tattoos. After shout outs to the “Applecross Massive” (apparently Morrison’s aunt used to live there) came the half love-song, half social-commentary of The Only Living Boy in New Cross, followed by Morrison’s musings on being continually shadowed by Ed Sheeran, as first mentioned in his recent X-Press interview: “any city that I have been to on this tour, I see a giant stadium. And when I ask what happens there, the answer has always been, oh, that’s where Ed Sheeran played. Do Australians just build giant stadiums for Ed Sheeran?”

The singalongs continued as Morrison pulled out an inspired take on the Inspiral Carpet’s classic This is How It Feels, which was followed up by After The Watershed. In a nod to those rather perplexing signs for international travellers at Perth Airport he said, “oh don’t worry, I bought loads of oranges in to your state. Loads of them. Oranges and nuts”, after which Jim Bob set his sights on the finishing line, bringing down the house with an anthemic version of Sherriff Fatman before ending with the rather fitting finale of The Impossible Dream.

A born entertainer, Morrison displayed a self-awareness and purpose to his art that alluded many of his early 1990s contemporaries, many of whom mistake a focus on brooding musicianship for serious artistic merit and forego any element of entertainment. It is with good reason that Morrison is still able to sell out the 2000 seat Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London (just a fortnight after this Perth date). Looking forward, we can but hope that it does not take another 25 years for Morrison to once again grace us with his presence.

Pop Will Eat Itself

After a short interval, the lights were once again dimmed and the spoken-word intro to Pop Will Eat Itself’s 1990 Cure for Sanity album, The Incredible P.W.E.I. vs The Moral Majority echoed throughout the venue. One by one, the band bounced onto stage , with original and founding member Graham Crabb last out, launching the band into a trio of head-bopping numbers, PWEIazation, RSVP, and Can You Dig It? Stopping to check in with the crowd, Crabb and fellow-vocalist Mary Byker’s lyric sharing act continued on Not Now James and Dance of the Mad, both possessing a remarkable teenage-like energy and attitude, jumping, sweating and spitting out lines as if they were possessed.

Pop Will Eat Itself

Newer tracks from the 2015 Anti-Nasty League LP, Watch the Bitch Blow and Director’s Cut were interspersed among the classics and were relatively well received, before the band launched into the unfortunately ever increasingly relevant anti-Nazi themed, Ich Bin Ein Auslander.

In a dynamic that in no way affected the band’s performance, the longer the set drew on, the greater the disparity grew between the energy on stage and that of the audience, many of whom were happy to stand back nursing a pint rather than join the frenzy of a mosh pit. Despite repeated attempts by both Mary and Graham to ignite the crowd, ultimately knee joints and lower backs were saved for this week’s school run in a move one has to sadly agree was ‘sensible’.

Pop Will Eat Itself

Returning for a final trio of songs, the Poppies refused to say die and continued to give the gig their all, storming through their 1993 hit Get the Girl, Kill the Baddies, then Def Con One before leaving the venue rumbling with the ominous Their Law.

And that was that: “Hello, good evening, welcome. And goodbye.”

MICHAEL D HOLLICK

Photos by Karen Lowe

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