Live Review: This Is Serious Mum?, The Moffs, The Spliffs, David O'Neill, Juke, 27/06/87

Venue: Prince of Wales Hotel, Melbourne.

Is this serious? - I don't think so. Firstly This Is Serious Mum (T.I.S.M.) start their set with a slide show of people T.I.S.M. hate; which included Alan Bond, private school kids and T.I.S.M. themselves! Secondly they don't reveal their faces on stage, which is rather reminiscent of The Residents (or Kiss!) and thirdly the band's song titles are ridiculously absurd, exampled being "Choose Bad Smack" or "The Mystery of the Artist Defined" (sic).

T.I.S.M. are a truly wonderful phenomenon, an eight piece band consisting of keyboards, bass, guitar, saxophone, drum machine and several vocals that draw crowds as extensive and enthusiastic as Melbourne's Painters and Dockers.

The band create an atmosphere of cynicism, stupidity and academia in chaos, with frequent mockery of T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. T.I.S.M.'s best moments are when they ridicule the cool inner city scene. I can still remember the lead singer reciting a poem that went "So it's back to Springvale for me and my mates, where the closest thing you get to dying for your art is being bashed up at the pub!"

The band does however borrow from groups such as Devo, The Residents and Stump, yet these influences never seem to overshadow their originality. With two versions of their bizarre single "Defecate On My Face" and huge pictures of John Elliot and Hugo Race (one in the same? [sic]) suspended above the stage, I was left with a grin I couldn't remove for days.

The Moffs and the Spliffs both played the support role on this night. The Moffs had aroused curiosity in me, ever since they released the wonderful "Another Day In The Sun". The four piece play full on early seventies rock not a great distance from Pink Floyd or late Beatles. The melodies they provided were strong particularly in their new material, but they started to grate when they started on the shuffling drums and circa 1972 lead breaks.

The Spliffs in contrast were pure mid-sixties bop, with a mix of jangling guitars, sing-along tunes and three chord songs. The lead singer bounded about like another Davy Jones, singing of their home town Townsville in the ballad "Slow Train" and presumably lost love in "Mary Go Round". The Spliffs were very enthusiastic and the audience responded, but I'm still not convinced that they're not the next Bay City Rollers!

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