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Beat Magzine
ED KUEPPER AND JEFF WEGENER, Northcote Social Club, Wed 27 July
Review by Patrick Emery

Ed Kuepper’s Wednesday night residency with Jeffrey Wegener has been a winter festival of unparallel enjoyment. But all good things must come to an end, and tonight saw the last show of the residency. As a special treat Kuepper and Wegener brought along former Sunnyboys bassist Peter Oxley to give some additional depth to the sound.

Ed Kuepper is looking very good these days. Like John Cale in the 1970s, Kuepper’s appearance in the 1990’s was a bit on the podgy side, the physical breadth of his shadow threatening to the shadow he casts of Australian independent music. But tonight he looked as lithe as the angry young man who thrashed out punk riffs against the backdrop of Bjelke-Peterson’s war on civil liberties

With his black beret and finely chiselled facial features, Jeffrey Wegener looks more like Parisian artist than a punk survivor – although given Wegener’s well documented history of substance abuse and behavioural idiosyncrasies, he could well lay claim to being Australian punk rock’s own William Burroughs.  A colleague noted that Wegener is the ‘professor’ referred to in The SaintsKnow Your Product (“shoot the professor”); presumably his professorship was in percussion, or maybe illicit chemistry. But tonight he was just spot on the money – tight and tough, frantic and fulsome. A master in his rightful place.

Given the unlikelihood that Jeremy Oxley will return to the stage in the near future, brother Peter’s appearance on bass for this show (building on a recent impromptu appearance  with Kuepper and Wegener in Sydney) was a salient reminder of the importance of the Oxley family’s contribution to Australian rock ‘n’ roll. Oxley’s bass emitted a thunderous roar that made you remember that beneath Jeremy’s quintessentially Australia sunny powerpop lay Peter’s robust, impenetrable bass foundation.

The set(s) itself drew liberal from Kuepper’s various projects (Laughing Clowns, solo Aints) and some covers (Johnny Cash, maybe some Stones, but no Stooges or VU that I could remember – but I’m willing to be corrected on that point). Yet the features of the show was not so much the songs played, but Kuepper’s ability to manage and manipulate the sound and the songs at will. In the first set I could only remember about six defined breaks between songs, yet within those discrete moments were crammed with a piethora of tempo fluctuations, mood swings and crescendoing solos.

The second set was just as liberally constructed. Kuepper loves an indulgent jam; crouched methodically over his guitar, Kuepper extracted a sound from his guitar that was genuinely unique. One of Kuepper’s many attributes has – and remains – been his ability to reinvent himself, while remaining true to his original punk spirit. He can play the old stuff, but in a new way; he can play new stuff, but with the old attitude. And Kuepper’s songs are etched permanently on the Australian musical landscape – the riff in The Way You Make Me Feel [sic] is a contender for the best Australian riff of the last 20 years

It might be anathema to the punk ideology, but Ed Kuepper is truly a punk elder statesman. Jeffrey Wegener is a survivor and we can all be thankful that he has survived. As a sporting colleague is prone to shouting from the sidelines, you cannot buy experience.

Patrick Emery

Thanks to Mende!
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