Monday, September 03, 2007

Slow and murderous

I don't know how they do it. Bill Direen flies into town for twenty-four hours and plays an almost unadvertised gig in a tiny room on the end of an obscure pub, and they still manage to turn up, loosen their ties, puff out their beer bellies, and pogo-waltz to 'Alligator Song' whilst spilling beer on more polite patrons. They're a strange mob, the Auckland chapter of the Direen Fan Club, and I don't know whether the fact that a number of them seem to occupy strategic positions in the media industry should be a source of reassurance or worry.

The ceaseless requests for '80s classics by blokes who could remember the decade made last Saturday's gig a marathon affair, and I'll admit to popping out to the pavement for an hour or so to watch the marvellously aloof Jack Ross holding court amongst a cluster of young writers. I slipped back inside for the rest of the three hour performance, and was rewarded by the spectacle of the latest incarnation of The Bilders (or is that The Builders, or Die Bilders?) deep in the groove. Drummer Andrew Maitai and bassist Brett Cross had drowned their nerves in whiskey, and were laying down a slow, murderous rhythm behind Bill's great slabs of splintering guitar noise and low, sinister vocals. Richard Anderton's falsetto soared out of the mix, like a bird fleeing a forest fire.

Brett and Andrew had already taken the stage earlier in the evening, as part of the artfully shambolic Dead Men Rising. With Brian 'mad dog' King on guitar and yours truly on shout, we shambled through three attempted songs, before finding our footing, or at least our knees, on an indecently long free noise cover of WH Auden's 'Spain 1937'. The further we advanced into our set, the further the audience retreated toward the back of the room. A number of them ended up on the pavement with Jack; when interrogated later about their cowardice, they used the time-honoured 'we could hear you better out there' excuse. Thanks to the lovely Suzette for these snaps, which you can click to enlarge, if you dare. Brian looks demonic, doesn't he?


Anonymous Anonymous said...


11:55 pm  
Blogger Jack Ross said...

I'll have you know that I was inside for a good deal of the time, and only moved out onto the pavement in order to chat with some of the poor, excluded smokers among the company ... I very much enjoyed the performance.

8:29 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just teasing Jack!

12:44 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

are we going to get another link to a rave review of bill on russell brown's blog?

bill direen's media establishment friends, if friends they be, are a mixed blessing.

they might score him some good copy, but they represent everything maps and (apparently) bill's music and titus books are supposed to be against.

they are smug middle class liberals who have found niches in an industry which is actually inimical to the values they claim to uphold.

they're prepared to emerge from their safe little world of organic food shops, guardian online and choi lattes to make a few token critiques of easy targets like george bush or global warming, but they'll skip back into line when the moment that the political establishment they serve comes under serious question.

and if anyone dares to critique them from the left, they'll reply with generous helpings of mud.

russell brown is very friendly with
senior figures in the labour party.
no surprise there - every whorehouse needs its eunuch.

russell's concern for peace and civil one liberties hasn't prevented him from apologising for labour's decision to sign up to bush's war of terror in october 2001, when it sent troops to join in the invasion of afghanistan.

russell makes the odd statement against the bloody disaster bush has brought to iraq, but if anybody actually wants to do something to stop the war, as opposed to utter moral imprecations over their choi latte, he is quick to use his access to the media to mock and slander them.

on his blog today russell makes a half-hearted statement against the massive repressive apparatus that the howard government has spent $300 million to put in place to prevent protests against the war during the upcoming apec conference. russell writes that:

'Will the protestors be annoying? Probably. Some of the people who jammed Melbourne during the World Economic Forum meeting in 2000 were spectacularly arrogant, and the spokesman for the Stop Bush coalition was particularly irritating in his turn on Morning Report today...

The self-described radical left has been planning for this since May. I hope no one does anything silly.'

The protest leader who russell found 'irritating' is a former member of the us army who took part in and then turned against the war, and has helped to rally thousands of other veterans against the carnage in iraq.

and what would it be 'silly' for the protsters to do in sydney on saturday? march past the us consulate, as the howard government is determined to stop them doing? occupy the consulate? burn it down?

all of these things were done by movements against earlier imperialist wars, but then russell, safely ensconced as he is in his leafy middle class auckland suburb sipping his choi latte, probably thinks that the mutinies and mass revolts which ended the vietnam war and the first world war were also 'silly' and 'irritating'.

besides smearing the anti-war movement, russell also uses his latest blog post to join in the labour government's campaign of slander against an iranian refugee who nearly died in custody last week.

according to the archives of this blog, bill direen's novel 'new sea land' is partly a response to the incarceration without trial and torture of 'illegal combatants' at guantanamo bay and similar facilities.

russell brown is an apologist for the ill-treatment of detainees by the labour government, which has enacted 'anti-terrorist' legislation giving it sweeping powers to imitate the behaviour of the bush regime. apparently ruseel hasn't leanred anything from the case of ahmed zaoui.

john gee

2:11 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[so the question is whether bill stands by his words - john]

2:14 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is wrong with Chai Lattes? (as long as you're not lactose intolerant obviously) I find them v. tasty myself.

Am also puzzled over an attack on(challenge to?) Russell Brown posted to someone else's website. I'm sure I heard somewhere that Mr. Brown has a blog of his own these days?

PS/ Yes Powertool have fingers in some tasty pies - good gig.

5:21 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chai latte = bourgeois scum.

8:30 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it looks like 'bill direen' has nothing to say either for or against his sometime soi distant friend russell brown. please let me know the next time he is in auckland, so that i can meet him outside his performance and hand him a white feather.

john gee

4:28 pm  
Blogger Skyler said...

John don't you have anything better to do with your time than critisize Bill Direen (who is a great musician). He has a lot of fans other than Russell too. Bill can't help it if he is respected in many different quarters for his musicianship.

8:19 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ha ha, so now i'm being criticised by one of the self-confesed 'yo-yos of yesterday'!


10:36 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John's inability to correctly name his enemy CHAI discredits the rest of his argument. How do we know you don't really mean Russell Bailey, John, given that you slander the innocent Bok Choi?

1:17 pm  
Blogger Russell Brown said...

John ... it's a little bit after the fact, but I have a moment so I might as well:

and if anyone dares to critique them from the left, they'll reply with generous helpings of mud.

Read your own line again, then the whole of your weirdly abusive post, and tell me you can't see the irony.

The fact that my views are not precisely the same as yours should not be cause for that kind of nastiness. Get a blog, for god's sake.

I can live with your sweeping characterisations of what I write and your near-miraculous summaries of my personal life, but I really have to take you up on your quoting of my post.

You quote me saying " I hope no one does anything silly." But the sentence didn't actually end there, did it?

The passage came after a paragraph about the online complaints by Sydney residents. I noted that some activists could be irritating and arrogant, "But those are not reasons to halt lawful protest."

The final line actually read: "I hope no one does anything silly, even under provocation. It would be ironic if the protestors' eventual achievement was to help legitimise John Howard."

And I was not writing about an Iraq veteran, but Alex Bainbridge of the Socialist Alliance, who is, frankly, irritating (the Hobart City Council once tried to have him banned from the city mall because he was annoying pedestrians). But he has a right to be, just as I have the right to find him irritating.

Anyway, I don't really see what this has to do with Bill's work, which I've loved for more than a quarter of a century (like way before I was a member of "liberal media elite"), and tried to champion when I can.

No need to approach me at the next show in Auckland. I'll know who you are. I'll be the one holding my tummy in -- and you'll be the pompous ass.


3:37 pm  

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