Melbourne three piece The Living End are one of those bands that everyone seems to have heard of without many people knowing much about them. They're out to put that right today but they needn't have worried as they get a big partisan crowd for their second headliner slot on the Lock Up Stage.
The initial impression is that of a decent punkabilly band, featuring double bass, guitar and drums. Older songs like 'Second Solution' get the crowd singing and chanting along early on but I'm struggling to see what all the fuss is about, they're OK but nothing special. This opinion is about change dramatically over the next half an hour as they just get better and better, gradually winding it up bit by bit. The sound is good and although they are on the lighter side of punk you get the feeling they can rock out when needed and a couple of minutes later they prove it! Front man Chris Cheney is quite an outstanding guitarist, clearly influenced by his hero Brain Setzer of the Stray Cats he sports a familiar Gretsch and boy can he play it. He does a short solo snippet of 'Mr Sandman' before leading the band in a quite breathtaking hillbilly section. The musicianship from all three is just outstanding, getting faster and faster but never missing a beat.
The crowd love it and the majority of those that drift into the tent out of curiosity are compelled to stay by the spectacle before them. The set list is a pick and mix from their four albums including plenty from the most recent offering including 'Wake Up' and 'What's On Your Radio?'. It's an old song that's picked to close the set though and judging from the crowd reaction 'West End Riot' seems an inspired choice. The Living End have really impressed today, Cheyney has given an inspired performance and this really would have been worthy of a headline set.