Australia’s Living End is regarded as one of the very best of the “punkabilly” bands, combining political and/or musical elements of punk outfits such as Green Day and the Clash with the rockabilly sense of groups such as the Stray Cats, with a bit of AC/DC-style guitar-slinging thrown in, for blood-stirring results.
The Melbourne threesome also has a knack for consistently delivering well-written anthemic songs, with lots of tight turns and sharp hooks, that reveal a host of rock influences. At the packed Roxy on Wednesday — the first date of a U.S. tour that comes right on the heels of a Japanese tour — the band had all its guns blazing during a boisterous 15-song, hourlong performance.
Frontman Chris Cheney takes many of his guitar nods from such players as Brian Setzer and Angus Young, and his six-string mastery, aided by venue’s crisp sound mix, often was the center of attention. As well, his bracing vocal delivery effectively forwarded the songs’ sense of frustration and passion, as on opener “Save the Day” (“We do a lot of work, and we don’t get paid”), and the antidiscrimination rally “Don’t Shut the Gate.”
Bass player Scott Owen, a former piano player in his youth, rocked his upright instrument for all it was worth, climbing onto it and swinging it around the stage while he banged out his rhythmic assault. Drummer Trav Demsey proved an incredibly consistent and propulsive timekeeper.
Other song highlights included manylifted from Living End’s ace new album, “Roll On” (Reprise), which is in stores March 27, including the aptly named “Riot on Broadway,” a fight song in true Stray Cats tradition, and nday, Bloody Sunday,” featuring a clever rearrangement, was a crowd fave, as was the show-closing tandem of “Second Solution” and the band’s 1998 breakthrough song “Prisoner of Society.” The mosh pit got a bit out of hand during “All Torn Down,” sparking at least one fight and causing the band to briefly stop playing.