Monday, March 05, 2007

Mark and Chase: Eclectic excursions into musical back pages

Remiss of me not to pen a review for the Mark Sisto's Detroit Actual gig at the Excelsior Hotel in Surry Hills a couple of months ago, I know. But other factors got in the way. So treat this, not so much as a review of that show, but a preview of what's coming up when the Marquis and Friends returns to the same venue on Thursday, March 16. Except predicting what they might do next is fraught with danger.
Mark, who you may know as Radio Birdman's Minister for Defence and back-up singer or vocalist for the post-Birdman band the Visitors, has been fronting a band called Vindicator Electro. Only, when they play laid-back stuff, they're Vindicator Smooth. Members include Radio Birdman's Chris "Klondike" Masuak (on drums but back on guitar), Ged Corben (Lime Spiders), Steve Lucas (X) and Jon Schofield (Paul Kelly, Hell to Pay and dozens of others), but it's more a floating collective than a permanent line-up.

Last outing, the gig started with a set by KLINK - not the Colonel from Hogan's heroes but principally Madeleine Chase, of '80s Sydney band The Skolars - and friends, who had dual membership of Detroit Actual. This was the "nightclub trip" - Madeleine and Mark dueting at times, on cruisy, loungey stuff. Chase plays Julie London, Sisto is cast as Scott Walker. No Corben, Schofield or Lucas on board this time, but Jack Stewart Shanley was adeptly cool on sax and a session guy Calvin Welch (an actual Michigan native who's played with Earth, Wind & Fire and Jackie Orszaczky, among others) sat in on drums and - stunned us with his mastery of the traps. Props to the consumate bass skills of Andy Newman (ME-262), the constant in these fluid line-ups.

Next came a KLINK set of the rockier stuff - "Detroit Actual" - with some country and blues excursions. Not so much actual Detroit songs (although "Get Ready" obviously hails from Motown) but a diverse selection, something like Detroiters would have grown up listening to on the radio in the '60s. Cue surprise guests with Birdmen Deniz Tek and Pip Hoyle joining bandmate Klondike.
We gratefully cop the Tek-penned "Pushing the Broom" (replete with ringing Masuak country licks), Visitors tunes "Brother John" and "Sad TV" (the former with a fucked up tempo - but whadya expect when it was played on a whim?), and a Tek solo vocal with dance moves on Guy Clark's "Desperadoes Waiting For A Train".

Take note: Deniz was seen playing a Strat.

Mark's own "Atoms Action" gets an airing with Chase harmonies. If anything, the set's a bit light on for the stuff he did with his '90s band Manifestations and those Vindicator songs of a more recent vintage, but this can change on the night.
All very eclectic, which is what a lot of Sydney rock and roll isn't. It drew well too, even though the show fell on the same night as the Big Day Out (which I suppose wasn't the same demographic.)

Anyway, you can listen to a couple of songs here and if you want to show up at the Excelsior on the 15th you ought to know that it's being billed as "Showdown at the Lazy K". And it will be supporting either Penny Ikinger Inc or French band Dimi Dero Inc (or maybe both) so be early. Plus Electra Jean (a French duo) will be opening up. I don't really know what Mark and Chase are going to do (Johnny Halliday, the French Elvis? Serge Gainsborough?) but it will be fun.

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