Hoodoo Gurus at Webster Hall (photo by Ray Rusinak)
For those of us of a certain age, The Hoodoo Gurus coming to the States is a BIG deal. Way back in 2019, the band announced that they would be visiting the US in late 2020, which would mark the first time they’d be hitting these shores in over a decade. Needless to say, that never happened. Ultimately, the group rescheduled and re-canceled a total of three times before they were finally able to kick off the tour last month in Florida. The good news was that during that wait, we fans were treated to a new release, Chariots Of Gods last year.
Originally formed in Perth, Australia back in 1981 by frontman, lead singer/guitarist David Faulkner, the band would go through a handful of lineup juggling before they finally hit the US for their first American tour in 1984. Their NYC area shows on that tour included one show at the fabled Chelsea club, Danceteria, another across the Hudson River at the even more iconic Maxwell’s in Hoboken, NJ as well as a late Sunday night gig at CBGB’s which had them erroneously billed at Goodoo Hurus. The band would eventually come back to the states in 1987 when they would play what was then called The Ritz (and now known as Webster Hall). The return to this venue did not go unnoticed by the band, as Faulkner was quick to point out very early on in their set that he—having settled for a bit in New York City in the mid 80’s—had some very fond memories of the room. One particular anecdote had Faulkner meeting (and partying rather heavily) with Joey Ramone in the balcony.
Faulkner’s stroll down his New York memory lane included his fandom way back when of the opening band, The Fleshtones. Of course The Fleshtones have been mainstays of the NY underground garage music scene since the early 80’s and I’ve seen them numerous times since those early days of playing basements and bars in the East Village. In all those shows, I can honestly say that they almost never disappoint. Between lead singer Peter Zaremba’s wild onstage antics along with guitarist/amateur on stage acrobat Keith Streng, the band’s opening set was almost as action packed and high energy as their shows back at Club 57 and Max’s were back in the day.
The Fleshtones at Webster Hall
Having been well primed for an evening of serious rock and roll by The Fleshtones, the mostly middle aged crowd were soon in for quite a treat. The Hoodoos took the stage promptly at 8:45pm and right from the get go ripped into “(Let’s All) Turn On” from their 1984 debut LP, Stoneage Romeo, then segued right into “Answered Prayers” off the newest album. And after just two songs it became quite clear to everyone in the room that these mid 60 year olds were not looking at this show or this tour in general as a nostalgia jaunt. Clearly they’d come to flat out rock and they’d come to show that they still had plenty left in the tank. It was sometime around this third or fourth song that Faulkner offered up an apology from the stage for having had to cancel the show so many times but they’d do their best to make up for the three year wait. Furthermore, I’m pretty sure the band hadn’t even played NYC since 2007, so the diehards had been waiting quite some time for their fix of Gurus.
Moving on through the set, the band went from song to song at a blistering pace. Playing songs from at least half of their albums, it was a wonderful cross section of a career loaded with high speed alternative rock. Interestingly, their first album and most recent LP were the two which were highlighted the most. Surprisingly, the band kicked into their US “hit,” “I Want You Back” rather early on in the set. Not surprisingly however, was that it was greeted with a raucous crowd sing along throughout the chorus and appeared to easily be the crowd favorite of the night.
Hoodoo Gurus at Webster Hall
The highlight song of the show for me had to have been “Bittersweet” from 1985’s Mars Needs Guitars. Coming later in the set, the trading off of lead vocals between Faulkner and guitarist Brad Shepherd along with Shepherd’s fantastic guitar solo made for a picture perfect moment. Their segue right into “I Was A Kamikaze Pilot” to close out the set had the crowd jumping up and down in virtual euphoria.
But as it soon became obvious, the band would not be done there. Coming out for what would be a four song encore, we were treated to “Death Ship” followed by a blistering version of “Like Wow” after which Faulkner began the intro to the next song, “What’s My Scene,” saying how Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles had sung on it then teased the audience that she was joining them…but then he laughed and said “just kidding.” What we did get was all of The Fleshtones joining the stage to dance, sing and parade about like a bunch of drunk ass hooligans. Granted, drunk ass hooligans who were having the times of their lives.
And just like that, it was all over. I promise you that most of the crowd had that same feeling of “the time of their life” as they filed out of the club. I will be the first to admit that I purchased tickets for the show four years ago thinking that this might be the last chance I have of seeing them. It took them over a decade to make their way back here this time and who knows what is in store going forward for a rock and roll band composed of 65 year old dudes from Australia. But let me tell you, they did not put on a show that felt like a swan song. Hoodoo Gurus brought it and left it all on the stage and if this was the last time I get to see them, well, I got to see a banger. But I sure hope that’s not the case.
Scroll down for setlist, pics of the show (photos by Ray Rusinak)
Setlist: (Let’s All) Turn On, Answered Prayers, Another Word, Out That Door, Be My Guru, Night Must Fall, Don’t Try To Save My Soul, Dig It Up, The Right Time, Chariot of the Gods, I Want You Back, Hayride to Hell, Miss Freelove ’69, Equinox, 1000 Miles Away, Come Anytime, Tojo, Poison Pen, Bittersweet, I Was a Kamikaze Pilot Encore: Death Ship, Like Wow- Wipeout, What’s My Scene, Leilani