The Stones, Cosgroves, Thursday June 23, 1983
By Steve Braunias
In honour of NZ Music Month, Gary Steel climbs into the crumbling catacombs of his back catalogue, and disinters a different story Every Day In May (EDIM). Today’s piece was penned by Steve Braunias, then a diligent arts writer for TOM magazine.
Note: I don’t remember this review. Steve probably doesn’t remember this review. But I figured he wouldn’t mind the reprint, given the dearth of material on this overlooked band, the poignant fact that Wayne ‘Stone’ Elsey’s star was to shine but very briefly.
LAST YEAR DUNEDIN’S Stones played support to John Cooper Clarke and New Order at Victoria University. This is known as giving a local band the chance to strum their quaint tunes in front of a larger audience than they would usually expect, and it is presumed to be good for their career.
The Stones however played an exhilarating set, and their best songs were far more inventive and powerful than Clarke’s or New Order’s. That this opinion will strike many as ridiculous, impossible, heretic, etc, is a good reflection of the audience reaction at the University. Five people danced to the Stones. The rest clapped a bit.
In effect they were shrugged off. When the Gods who descended from the Vinyl to walk on Earth appeared (Clarke, New Order) the dance floor was just packed with rubber neckers. In fact one of them, who also writes for this bugle, later had her prayers answered by being allowed to pack the shirts of Order man Bernard Albrecht. One suspects her of picking from her favourite shirt a piece of lint, and securing it in a preserving jar.
The public try to keep bands in their proper place. The Stones can be dismissed as something of an irritant in the big arena, but this night at the humble abode of Cosgroves, they are accepted. The pub is packed and bodies are jumping.
It is an uneven performance from the three-piece band. Of the two main problems, the most important is their tendency to jam forever and so forth. In one song their impatience to stop the singing and get on with the instrumental workouts was depressingly obvious. This sort of thing still gets admiration, however, and not just from people who thought the band’s name must imply rock’n’raunch muzak.
The other bore was the singing of bass player Geoff Stone. It was low and rather monotonous, almost disinterested with the words; yet in another band it would probably sound alright. The trouble is that he is in the same band as Wayne Stone.
Wayne Stone is a star. With a red stage-light upon his sallow face, a guitar over his small lean frame, and even in bland clothes – despite all this – he is a star. He whines in a high-pitched voice that often slips out the side of his mouth, and he looks consistently annoyed with something. He is one of the few people in the country who make the guitar a respectable instrument – an exciting player, and sensible enough to let the shimmering sounds he gets out of it contribute (rather than dominate) to the band sound. When they are all in sync the Stones are a marvelous group; direct and thorough, and imaginative.
They played a few songs from their new EP that were typically fast and impressive. Their one concession to lightness was ‘Three Blind Mice’, an old song, where they actually moved a bit on stage and the sound popped up and down instead of their usual layer after layer of serious electricity.
The Stones are a good band to see. Dancing to them is extremely good. They are a very original band, although they tend to repeat themselves, and the playing is at the very least technically fine. A lot of differing types of people at Cosgroves liked them. And of course they have a star, that wonderful singer, and it is a shame that New Zealand’s media machine was not full of more money and more shit because there are a lot of bored kids from here to Disneyland who are only waiting to collect famous lint. STEVE BRAUNIAS