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?