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The Age, Melbourne (AUS) May 20, 2005

ED KUEPPER AND JEFF WEGENER – The Northcote Social Club, May 18
Review by Jo Roberts

After spending an evening in the company of former Saint, Aint, and Laughing Clown, Ed Kuepper, it becomes glaringly obvious what an important figure this man has been in Australian music. Rank him up there with Paul Kelly. At the very least.

It was an older, discerning sell-out crowd (Mick Thomas, Dave Graney and Clare Moore, no songwriting slouches themselves, were in the audience) that gathered on Wednesday night to hear Kuepper perform with former Laughing Clowns' drummer Jeffrey Wegener.

They teamed up in April to do a month-long residency at Brisbane's Troubador, and it was so well received, that they decided to bring their act south. Lucky for us.

Rumours abounded that Nick Cave would make a guest appearance, but he didn't show (perhaps he was paying a certain sick friend a visit?). No matter, the night was rich enough in surprises as it was, as Kuepper revisited four decades of his material, from the immortal punk of the Saints, the jagged punk-jazz of the Laughing Clowns, to his at times brilliant solo pop poetry - even throwing in some left-of-field covers for good measure.

Kuepper - looking as lean as he did in his Saints days - opened the first of two sets with one of the Laughing Clowns' finest moments, Eternally Yours (from 1983's Law of Nature album), bleeding out the intro with a thundering '60s surf beat from Wegener beneath his almost raga guitar; Kuepper then chimed in with his distinctive fragile vocals.

The night featured some of Kuepper's finest moments: Saints classics such as Messin' With the Kid, a fabulously filthy Know Your Product (that lost none of its seedy power despite being played at almost half the pace of the original version), and The Prisoner; from his solo career came such gems as Honey Steel's Gold and La Di Doh, and then the covers - a punked up version of Fever, Canned Heat's On the Road Again, the Stones' Gimme Shelter.

The sonic marvels Kuepper and Wegener conjured between just the two of them was nothing short of gobsmacking. Thanks to his deft use of sampling, Kuepper even managed the harmonica solo in On the Road Again.

But Wegener's playing was more than equal to the task; superb, in fact. One of Kuepper's few comments to the crowd was to introduce "Northcote's own" Wegener to the audience, to a fitting roar.

Called back for an encore, Kuepper surprised with one of the oddest medleys you'd ever hear, somehow blending Del Shannon's Runaway with the Velvet Underground's Waiting for the Man and the Stooges' We Will Fall. Somehow, it worked. Musically, there's not much this man touches that doesn't.

Jo Roberts

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