The much anticipated launch tour for The Hard Ons Ripper ’23 album finally landed in Sydney and not a moment too soon. Crowbar Leichardt was soon filled with enthusiastic fans eager to show their appreciation for arguably their best offering yet! One album under his belt with the royals of Aus punk as lead vocalist on I’m Sorry Sir That Riffs Been Taken, Tim Rogers took to the stage as if he’d been in the band since it’s inception. More on this later though…..there were three other bands rounding out this stellar gig.
First up were Crankees who exploded onto the stage filling the room with garage punk rock energy. Rodney’s distinct giant afro strutting across the stage combined with a tight rhythm section and LoJetz’ guitarist Jimmy providing blistering guitar riffs and made for the perfect opener. Downgirl just made it in time – wild drummer Skarlette Saramore arrived straight from another gig with just 10 minutes to spare. Quick soundcheck and the girls were ready to entertain us with their brand of sexy punk rock, very reminiscent to me of Joan Jett and the Runaways – super hot, super talented and a stage presence and rock and roll attitude you simply can’t teach. The room reflecting the enthusiasm being produced onstage. They finished their set with a brilliant cover of Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots Are Made for Walkin”. Argentina’s Boom Boom Kid were something else! My first introduction and they delivered as promised – so much energy, bizarre (and temporary) costume changes, silly string and singer Carlos kind of like watching a South American punk Little Richard. He didn’t stop moving for a second and the crowd were enthralled – so many Boom Boom Kid fans that no doubt had watched them play the night before at The Duke and came back for a second round. Not content with just playing to the crowd, Carlos invited them up onstage to join him – the stage was packed! The set ended with much fanfare as Carlos launched his body board into the crowd and climbed aboard to literally surf the crowd, and yes, he was standing!
The Hard Ons have only recently returned from a successful European tour and have been playing to packed crowds across the country. As mentioned, this latest album is Tim’s second with the band and whilst both albums are stellar, the difference with Ripper ’23 is that Tim was there from the start so his contribution was much greater than that of Riff – definitely still a Hard Ons album but with a little something extra. His confidence in fronting the band he’s wanted to join since he was a teen is definitely marked since I saw his first gig with them at the end of 2021, it’s like he’s been with them the entire time. They are all just so comfortable onstage together and the regular compliments scattered throughout the set show that the friendships between them all are hard and fast. Only one song in and shirts were off. So difficult to decide where to point my camera – there’s always so much going on with these guys. Murray’s apparent ease in constantly bashing out perfect timing every song despite only just getting over being unwell on top of their heavy touring schedule. Ray of course playing his bass in his own unique style – I never tire of watching the way he commands his instrument and can easily see why he is such an inspiration to many a bass player. Then of course there’s Blackie; ever humble but shreds like nobody’s business, piercing our ears with riffs that keep the crowd mesmerised and coming back for more. Tim as a frontman in general is always good value but seeing him front The Hard Ons is really something else. It’s like he’s reincarnated Bon Scott mixed with a little Mick Jagger and Iggy Pop and extra magic on top. The expressive way in which they perform only enhances everything and they are easily a photographers’ dream to shoot especially live.
Ripper ’23 out now on Cheersquad Records, available on CD, Cassette and Vinyl. New single In Falls Everything released 13 July 2023 available for download now.