Image: The Aints courtesy of CarbieWarbie .
Author: Sean Lees
The Aints Play The Saints ‘73-’78 w/ Harry Howard and the NDE at the Bald Faced Stag, Thursday November 23
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Saints debut record (I’m) Stranded, principle songwriter Ed Kuepper reformed his 90’s outfit The Aints to perform the golden age of the Brisbane group’s material.
First off the rank is punk veteran Harry Howard and the Near Death Experience. The group seems to work in two pairs. The rhythm section throttles the accelerator whilst the front pack steers direction; this contrast caters heavily to Howard’s measured lyrics – a rough edge pop affair with a veil of complexity that holds the audience’s gradually expanding attention.
As time passes, the air fills with dry heat; suddenly shoulder to shoulder, narrator and orchestra stereo backing fuels the anticipation. As the orchestra hits its peak, The Aints make to the stage, immediately attacking with a 1-2-3 punch of ‘Messin’ With The Kid’, ‘Eurotic Neurotic’ and ‘This Perfect Day’ all from The Saints’ debut album.
The Aints skirt the line of authenticity and reinterpretation; does the audience want to hear a note for note recreation of an iconic album, or hear a familiar basis with the benefit of hindsight?
Kuepper aims to present a happy medium. His stage banter offers historic context as he reflects upon unreleased material and the pressures of breaking the music market. These recently recalled hidden gems are a welcome addition – their presence breaks up the set from a series of familiar songs. It’s a subtle reminder that not all songs can find a spot on a record, regardless of quality.
‘Brisbane (Security City)’ and ‘Prisoner from Prehistoric Sounds’ sound almost brand new, moving on from the frenetic, fast-paced and ear-bursting live performances of yore. Peter Oxley’s (ex-Sunnyboys) warm bass melodies alongside Kuepper’s more dynamic guitar playing really shines a light on the hidden complexity and versatility of The Saints’ back catalogue.
Rounding out the night were popular favourites ‘I’m Stranded’ and ‘Know Your Product’. The mainstays of (I’m) Stranded absolutely shone; the boisterous horns and robust energy of each track is further reinvigorated by the crisp sound not found in their records. The Aints close the show out on the exhilarating highs of Tina and Ike Turner’s ‘River Deep Mountain High’; Kuepper knows how to play the crowd and tease false endings, by which the audience gladly reciprocates by chanting along. This is punk at its finest, not just a vehicle for nostalgia but a holistic experience appreciated by all.