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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Flight of the Codchords

Cod. The Monster Cod. At the Lansdowne. Scheduled to finish at 10.30 (at night) so I could be home with a cup of green tea watching classy porn on SBS before real night begins.

Crossing City Road I spotted Thor, G-cod, in a wife-beater singlet. What next? A Merv Hughes mo? Didn't put me off though. After the usual dweeblings the band started. Straightaway I noticed a difference. Where's Dave? A no show? Some Oasis-like punch-up? Or had Dave formed his own band? "The Original Cod feat. D-cod"?

No matter. The boys did what they do best. I think if I was a musician and had spent years honing my craft and creating songs that were of the now but not too obviously derivative I would hate Cod. It looks easy. Underlying their music is a respectful acknowledgement of the past which anchors the song they are "doing". On top of this is a musicianship that allows the song to be used as a framework to embellish without destroying. So you get an alt-Classic Rock feel which becomes the setting for the show.

When you see a drummer and bass player with a "Holy Shit! What's he doing now?" look to them you know something is happening. G-cod, the wife-beater replaced with Marc Almond's shirt and Peter Fonda's kerchief and the sunnies Partis Hilton would buy if she was po' white trash, is working it. Around me people were laughing out loud. On the stage people were laughing out loud. Where does he get it from? It just keeps on coming.

There was a different feel to the pub than last time, a lot less people. It was Mardi Gras night so I didn't feel as old, fat and badly dressed as I normally do of a night. All the beautiful people were being fabulous somewhere else. This was more your saddies, maddies, baddies and daddies scene. And of course the flock of PYTs that G-cod attracts to the bewilderment of the posse of predators that trail them. Like hyenas they (we? surely not?) wait for the leftovers once the lion in G-cod's pocket has roared.

It's all about the music. They nail it. I've seen it happen with rhythm sections before. They lock it in. They become one and that thing they do gives them and the rest of the band the chance to soar. I once saw Art Pepper talking about being in the zone. When he was playing at his best he would leave his body and go somewhere in front of and above the stage and watch himself play.

When the Cod are in the zone and leave their bodies they seem to think "These fools can play. Dang me if I ain't getting up on stage with them". So there is the song, the "cover version" locked in and playing along quite nicely, thank you, ma'am, and then there's all this room for the performance on top. Part jam session part catwalk for the stylish struttings of G-cod - a new way of relating to old music is created.

I worked briefly at the Hammersmith Palais when Luna Park was the resident covers band. Between the seven or eight people on stage and the thighsands and thighsands of pineds worth of equipment they could do note-perfect renditions of every song ever. If you shut your eyes, always a wise choice, it was like listening to a record. Cod's not like this.

The record's still playing but the kids have taken to the pots with the spatulas again, Uncle Bernard's got into the Bundys again and Barrel from Maintenance is channelling Englebert Humperdinck, again. The PYTs from telemarketing have turned into the Amy Whitehouse precision dance team and the bloke who had to leave the army has turned into a mechanical bull and is being ridden by a blonde without a stetson. It's like red cordial day at the creche (Please remember our nut-free policy).

In the movie Purple Rain there's a moment when Prince glances briefly at the camera and then tears into some gee-tar playing. It is as if he is saying "If all I wanted was to be as good as Hendrix it'd be this easy but I've got ambitions". Or maybe it's like the moment in Town Bloody Hall when Norman Mailer says that straight men can do all the sex that lesbians do and the other stuff as well. Mailer got booed off stage - quite the tongue lashing.

But I digress. Cod say "Yes we got the songs down, plus we got the licks, and the show and we're having fun".

Later a disco starts up. For no good reason. It's like being at a cousin's 21st in Wagga Wagga. I'm not sure why there was a DJ. Half a dozen Disco Magic CDs downloaded to the i-pod, into the dock, "Random Select" and Woohoo! Arnold van Whoever, eat ya heart out!


Fifi Colston said...

so better than the Wall Sockets then?

Fresh Local said...

Better? Well, I'm not so attracted to the insistence on polarities that seems to dominate much of the internet.

The Wallsockets could be great and not-so-great within a single song. G-cod and the boys have been around the traps for decades so always produce an entertaining show. At one stage G-cod wielded the axe and played keyboard for The Tenants best remembered for their classic "You shit me to tears".

As I heard it "tears" was a hit song before he joined, he had to learn to play keyboard for it and it went on to be a TripleJ Hottest 100 song for that year.

The Wallsockets mainly played originals and the covers they did were interpretations that often, imho, were improvements over the most well known recorded versions of each song.

Ev said...

Flight of the Codchords.... that's so funny.... and the review was so - take you there.... gosh you are a great writer Mr Fresh Local!!

Fresh Local said...

Thanks Ev. Part of the Mighty Cod's schtick is that they use versions of other bands images with Cod inserted more or less appropriately somewhere.