The last time I saw Amyl and the Sniffers was at the Factory Theatre in March 2020. Australia had just gone into lockdown, although the PM was encouraging punters to go to the footy.
Fast forward two years, the world is still dealing with Covid and Australia has become a circus of the bizarre. There are over 30 000 cases in NSW today, Novak Djokovic is in detention and the PM’s wife is reportedly driving around looking for Rapid Antigen Tests.
The Amyl concert tonight is part of the Sydney festival which is shrouded in controversy because of the financial backing that has been received from the Israeli Embassy. The skies look foreboding, the small crowd is politely seated and masked, lots of seats are empty – the plague has scared off many, or they are simply unwell and confined to home. It’s not really a party atmosphere and I can’t help but wonder if Amyl and the Sniffers will not live up to expectations tonight.
The band recently had to cancel a series of overseas concerts because they all became infected with Covid too, but Amy later assures us that their immunity is now so good that they have been licking the toilets backstage (don’t try this at home.)
Amy and the boys bound on stage punctually at 7pm. Amy is dressed in a bikini top and green shorts, she’s wearing dark sunglasses because perversely for any Amyl gig, the sun has not set yet. I am sure that for many in the crowd, this is their first concert for a long time and many appear to be suffering from a form of chair-bound PTSD, I wonder if the band will be able to get them on their feet.
It doesn’t take long before people start coming up to the front. The band has clearly become more professional during this two-year hiatus (if one ignores the fact that initially they were using the wrong playlist – one which would have resulted in the set finishing after 12 minutes, quipped Amy.) Security has politely stopped many more from coming to the front and asked people to return to their seats (please).
Amy is fearless she goes into the crowd during the second song, clambering over the sound system, she nearly ends up falling off the stage, but undeterred she continues to dance frenetically.
The band plays a selection of songs from their latest album ‘Comfort to Me’ as well as some older songs. Crowd favourites are ‘Go Fuck Yourself;’ and ‘Gacked on Anger’. Amy’s energy is infectious (pun not intended) and soon the crowd is up on its feet and grooving along with her.
“This one is for the Ladies”, Amy announces as she strips down to her G String for ‘Knifey’. Instead of being sexual, exposing her body in this way becomes a statement about how society still dictates that women cannot walk around alone at night.
Amy directs the lyrics of ‘Security’ at the security guards patrolling the front of the stage “Security, will you let me in your pub? I’m not looking for trouble, I’m looking for love”, although the only issue the bouncers have tonight is exhorting the punters who are dancing wildly in front of the stage, to keep their masks on.
The Sniffer guys provide a tight backdrop to Amy’s manic stage persona. Drummer, Bryce – shirtless and sweating forges a steady beat. Dec Martens has some scorching solos and playful interplay with Amy. Bassist Fergus Romer’s face is expressionless but clearly enjoying himself as he makes some cynical comments about the state of the world.
The band’s cracking cover version of Patrick Hernandez’s ‘Born to Be alive’ is the second last song, I look over my shoulder and see my companion and the rest of the crowd up on their feet. God knows we all needed this release from the stressful situation that the pandemic has imposed on us.
Having raced through their hour-long set, the concert is finished too soon and tonight there is no encore. The crowd spontaneously starts singing Happy Birthday to Amy who celebrated her birthday this week.
Continuing the retro disco theme, we walk out to the sounds of Tropical Fuck Storm’s cover of “Staying Alive”. Fuck Covid. Amyl and the Sniffers are back and it’s great to be alive.
(Click on the thumbnails for full view)