Monday, November 21, 2016

The Living End at the Gramercy Theatre

Scott Owen and Chris Cheney
Chris Cheney and Scott Owen met when they were in primary school in Wheelers Hill, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. Cheney saw a Kiss concert when he was five years old and started playing guitar as age six, imitating what he heard on AC/DC cassettes. Owen played piano until at age 17 he purchased and taught himself to play a double bass so he could play rockabilly with his best friend Cheney. Cheney and Owen had their first public gig in Melbourne in 1991. Naming themselves the Runaway Boys after a song by the Stray Cats, they recruited drummers and covered songs by the Clash and the Stray Cats. By 1994 Cheney and Owen were writing and performing their own material and so they became The Living End – a reference to the 1956 film, Rock Around the Clock. The Living End went on to Australian stardom and won five ARIA Music Awards. Since 2002 the line up consists of Cheney (vocals, guitar), Owen (double bass, vocals) and Andy Strachan (drums). The Living End's seventh studio album, Shift, was released on May 13, 2016.

Although the Living End has been known in Australia for 22 years, the band continues to struggle for recognition in the United States. Tonight's concert at the Gramercy Theatre demonstrated that this is no new band but a tight, polished band that blurred the distinctions between punkabilly and hard rock. Of the 16 songs performed, some were styled after a 1950s revival, some were more punk-driven, but others had flat-out AC/DC hard rock markings. Somehow it all would up sounding like the next chapter of the Clash. Impassioned vocals rang clear and detonated into choruses with big hooks, clearly defining each rallying anthemic song despite their similar nitro-powered in-your-face blasts. With proper exposure, the Living End's controlled rampage would win a strong American audience.

Visit the Living End at