Friday, January 23, 2009

The Laughing Clowns Come Back To Town

The mighty phoenix of the Laughing Clowns
will rise from the ashes to again show that
everything that flies is not a bird.
Jeffrey Wegener

And the phoenix did rise, all the expectations
were surpassed, in the kind of performance
that will be remembered here as one of the
greatest. All of the elements that made this band
unique were there, these guys are musicians
of the type streets ahead of the others and
they were clearly working well together and
enjoying it immensely.

As did the crowd who were captivated and
enthralled through the entire show.
The trouble is finding the words to describe
what happened on the stage, except it was

Ed Kuepper was his usual brilliant self,
joking and generally enjoying the whole thing.
Playing like the genius he is, but not dominating.
The Clowns was the band that introduced Ed's
vocal work to the world and they remain some
of my favorite of his vocal performances.
If his voice had been under any strain after
the ATP gigs it didn't show.

Ed's Amp guitar set up for the clowns is a bit,
um, smaller than for the saints. Gone are the
Marshall amps, instead a vox. The vg8 and strat
are still there, but we have a whole different sound.

Jeff Wegener was on fire, he retains his place
as the greatest drummer I've ever seen and
the only one who has got my attention over
everything else going on in a band, repeatedly.

Louise Elliott is just an incredible improvisational
musician, she is the lead focal point in a band
where everything can compete for your attention
all at once and she gets it.

Leslie 'Bif' Millar is a fantastic bassist and a
admirable musician who put on a fine show.
Innovative and a worthy partner to Jeff in the
percussion section, I thoroughly enjoyed his

Also on tour was Alister Spence on
keyboard, the only not original member,
he is a brilliant and well respected jazz
musician who apart from being very happy,
added a lot to increase the depth of sound.

Goma the venue for the event is Brisbane's
pride and joy, our fantastic fairly new
Gallery of Modern Art, the prefect place to
see a band who have often been identify
as an art band. Before the gig we just wandered
round looking at the fantastic exhibits, it was a
great vibe and a great way to get in the
mood. Eds inclusion of collapse board in
the set was a very funny reference to the
Gallery's exhibit theme, optimism.

The visual art on display behind the
band during the performance is the
stunning work of Judi Dransfield Kuepper
and David Granato, which of course was

I know heaps of you guys were
there and it was great to catch up with Glen
at the show, but I what to hear all your
I was rather organized this time and took
a pen and paper to record the set list.
Best of all news has come in Chuck made
the gig against the odds and recorded it.
Fantastic news indeed.

Laughing Clowns, Goma, Brisbane, 24-01-09.

Set List
01 Fly Paper
02 Come One. Come All
03 Everything That Flies Is Not A Bird
04 Theme From Mad Flies, Mad Flies
05 Nothing That Harms
06 Collapse Board
07 Eternally Yours
08 Bully in Town
09 Winters Way

Check out in the comments for plenty more reviews
from blog readers. , such as

The great music of the past shone in an atmosphere
that was joyous for the past of not only the band,
but of the majority of the audience and that audience
that included me!
The Laughing Clowns are one of the greatest bands ever!


Been a while since I've been so excited by a gig that really
really delivered. My expectations were very high
and I was certainly not disappointed.
Hence exclamation mark overload! :)


As others have said, great set and Bully was a highlight
for me after Eternally Yours. Also, Ed actually said that
Winters Way pre-dated the Saints, implying I think
that it was a simple little number.
How far from the truth.


So add yours too.


Unknown said...

a great post-for a great gig.feels like i was there.thanks bob

Unknown said...

hope it was recorded ???
well of course chuckie wouldnt miss this for the world :)
well i nearly did.. but i didnt - so - send a few pics on over and with a bit of luck ill slop some art together for it and be in your ears by the late night.. check out rage after 1am too theyll be showing eternally yours clip :)

bob nebe said...

Damn Chuck your the man, Brissy finest audio historian.
You told me you couldn't make so that is bloody great news.
And Mick I told you enough times, bigger than the Who I said
ciao bob

John said...

chuck you are the greatest:-)))))

I also noticed someone filming the gig. Wonder who that was.

Bob. In that pic you have of the crowd there is a pic of a bloke in a blue shirt on the right side of the pic. Behind him is a head against the wall, that is my other half, and next to her is the faint image of me. haa haa. Fleeting internet fame.

I write a journal on a music chat site. I am writing a revue for that and will post what I have written on there here as well, but I would like to give you some kudos for your sterling work here. Do you mind if I mention this fantastic blog?

bob nebe said...

Mention away John, I like getting readers in the crowd shot. if you look at the crowd shot on the left there's a guys with his hand half over his eyes.
That's the last leader of the democrats Andrew Bartlet.
Don't think hes a reader but,
Let me know what music site it is an all, an if you mind a link back to it from here.
ciao bob

John said...

The Clowns came on to a good applause at 8.30 and with out any banter hit it with The Fly Paper from the final album Ghosts Of An Ideal Wife. We were treated to a further 6 tunes. All of the songs where played with sublime skill and there was an enthusiasm from the Clowns that was infectious. Theme From Mad Flies, Mad Flies was just one of the highlights. Is this one of the best songs in jazz rock fusion? I know that the Clowns have never been keen on being called Jazz Rock or Jazz Punk but I have no complaints. It is a song that the greats of say Coleman/Coltrane could be linked to. The Clowns finished the set with Eternally Yours. This is one of the truly great Clowns songs and when the crowd picked up what was playing the buzz was palpable. The wonderful jangly chords of Eds guitar and the super rhythm section of Jeff Wegener on drums and Bif Millar on stand up bass. New member Alistair Spence on keys complimenting Ed, Jeff and Biff. As much as the songs superb lyric always shine it is the melodic and then free form Sax playing of Louise Elliot that makes this soar to the heights that brings goosebumps to this writer. I could die with this song playing. It ended and the Clowns said their goodbyes and tramped off but the crowd was having none of it.

After a few minutes they returned. Ed was very cheerful indeed and his manner was of a man at peace with the way the night had materialised. I have seen him many times live now and he has at times had a stormy relationship with some of the more vocal members of the audience but tonight was all good humoured and fun. He dripped sweat and looked happy. The bloke in front of me called for Bully In The Town, Ghosts Of An Ideal Wife I called, "good call" said another next to me "but anything would do" he said with the grin of a happy punter. Yes I thought, spot on. "If you call out a song we won't play it" said Ed smniling and then ripped into the sublime Bully anyway. When on fire why not another number and Winters Way was great way to end. Considering the temperature in Brisbane that day, a humidly hot, sticky, cloudy and stormy day, this was a great way to end. What a show! Brilliant. There was a relaxed manner about the band. They are all older and I guess there are no more drug induced personal differences in the way. The great music of the past shone in an atmosphere that was joyous for the past of not only the band, but of the majority of the audience and that audience that included me!

The Laughing Clowns are one of the greatest bands ever!

Bob. The site is Music Banter.

I write in the journal mostly under the name 4ZZZ haa haa. It is the best music chat site I have found on the WWW. The journal is very very good quality and by fans. They do not link as a rule as they are rightfully jealous of their independence but have a look at it anyway if you like. The journal I have set up gives me a chance to pretend I am a music writer haa haa!. If you signed on and commented I would be rapt.

Keep the great work up.
Cheers. John.

bob nebe said...

Fantastic work John, you reminded me of how Ed was saying Winters Way was a very old song, seemingly back to the end of the saints days.
Imagine the saints 4th album if they had keep going, bit imposible really.
I'll check out the site
ciao bob

bob nebe said...

John can't find your review yet on the musicbanter site, i found the ATP one you did, so any pointers would help
ciao bob

John said...

In the reader section the mods tend to vet them before allowing them through so as to keep the quality high. It should be there later.

Meltingpod said...

WOW !!! what can I say when I wake up in the morning uder the rain at Marseille in Winter...I read a fairy tale...:)
last night before going to bed I got a review from Malcolm Hill who was at Mt Buller and was as elogious as you all and called the Clowns , the best band of the ATP festival !! here :

I have no doubt it was a dreaming show but bravo for your sensitive words to reflect what you saw and listened.
bravo to Bob for the cool pics and review detailled to each musician : you find the true words I guess, even if I never saw them Live...Come to Europe, THE CLOWNS !!!

Anonymous said...

I second all that ... and more!

wonderful! wonderful! gig! Great list and what a jolly old soul Ed was!

Eternally Yours! What a ride! Just loved the way they dipped and worked up the momentum on that one like some rollercoaster! At one point I just to yell, "Here we go again!" ... and away we went!

An encore? Huh? What's this? "New Bully in Town" was the big and pleasant surprise for me. A perennial mr.K favourite. Wegener's drumming on this is a magic groovy constant.

Been a while since I've been so excited by a gig that really really delivered. My expectations were very high and I was certainly not disappointed. Hence exclamation mark overload! :)

Why do I have a hunch that we haven't heard the last of the Clowns yet? A new recording, if they could get it all together would be the bee's knees.

bob, again we missed one another. Must syncro bat time and location prior next time.

Did I hear the guy at the end right when he said "The Reels" were coming up for an UpLate show? Fantastic! Another show to look forward to.

bob nebe said...

Ken great review I havent heard anyone who was dissapointed or less than blowen away, theres talk of more, my be just that, i heard that its worked well enough to be a going concern.
we will have to catch up if you have any ideas, the reels does sound good
ciao bob

_ said...

I saw them at ATP in Sydney, i think the set list was the same but they didn't do the encore, I would love to have heard Bully and Winter! I was a bit disappointed with the version they did of Eternally Yours, I love the original drums in that - for me it carries the song.

Anonymous said...

Was a great gig and well attended by people who clearly had knowledge of the band. I was a little disappointed that the keyboards dropped out a bit after the first two songs but a long hall will never assist the sound. That said, the venue was about as perfect as it gets for a Clowns gig and its not often that you'll find yourself sitting in the restaraunt at the same time as the band are having their pre gig meal.

Prior to the gig I had a chat with Jeff and Louise which gave me the chance to say how much I was looking forward to the evening as well as discussing ATP from the week before. learly, they were planning to enjoy themseles as well.

As others have said, great set and Bully was a highlight for me after Eternally Yours. Also, Ed actually said that Winters Way pre-dated the Saints, implying I think that it was a simple little number. How far from the truth.

Thanks for the pix and the video and I'd reckon we'll see the Clowns again in Brisbane in May. With new songs perhaps. Now that will be something.

Anonymous said...

I live in the wrong town!! Bring it west ed :)

bob nebe said...

Well if you in Perth you got the triffids this weekend, which I wish would do a show in Brisbane.
Almost as good.
ciao bob

Anonymous said...


tame rat said...

while it was a pretty good & certainly much much better than the saints at atp . i hafta say i for one agree with everett true who ever he is i don't think fawning crowds bring out the best bands , i saw the clowns play with much more intensity to indifferent / hostile crowds & the 'legendary' tag is the kiss of death for anyone ... having said that they deserve whatever rewards come their way , i wish them all the success in the world , but i won't be going again

bob nebe said...

Having seen them in the day I imagine would be very hard to top,not only were the crowds hostile there was by all accounts plenty tension in the band

Richard, London said...

I wouldn't say that they played to hostile audiences in the main. I think that is more of a legend. Their music was loved by 4ZZZ and their records were always in the hot bin. I seem to recall that they were quite spikey to deal with from a promoter's perspective but it didn't interfere with 4ZZZ putting them on at every opportunity. I don't think the commercial promoters in Queensland such as Paul Dainty tended to put them on. Different crowd.
Dangerous...? Kuepper always exuded an air of "if you don't get it F*off", which was just fine. I don't think he cared whether people liked it or not.

bob nebe said...

So you sound like one of the lucky buggers who saw them back in the day,
I can imagine that the talk of hostile audiences has been exagerated, I'm sure it had nothing on the US sex pistol tour and that would have been exagerated too,
when I think of hostile audiences then that tour comes first to mind.
I do remember Ed complaining of poor numbers at gigs and a perceved lack of success, but he had that continue into his solo career for quiet a while.

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Anonymous said...

I saw LC in Sydney many many times in the old days- I tried to get to every show they played, and apart from a few in the outer burbs, the audience was always great - the band was well loved - and Ed's attitude re. if you don't get it then f... off was shared by us too! LOL Altho numbers were poor in some places,the gigs at the Trade Union in particular were always a blast! Truely the beast band ever!