IT IS strange for English
eyes and ears accustomed to short pop
songs and meticulously crafted images to
be confronted by a herd of Hunters And
Collectors onstage and working through
their opening song.
probably seven or eight minutes with bits
of voice, and organ stabbing in at
intervals, creating a deceptive
impression of rambling laziness,
something aided by the individual
members natural, stepped in off the
street attire. At points, the singer
wanders away and observes the proceedings
from the mixing desk.
could be improvising but they're not.
Loose in approach tight in effect,
Hunters And Collectors operate as a
collective (including road crew, there
were fifteen at the last count),
different people with different tasks yet
slotting together like some intricate,
And Collectors have a structural approach
and rattle the bones of the pop music
carcass (not to mention the
percussionist's gas cylinder) in a way
that is not instant or brash but more
insistent an invite or a challenge
to get drawn in their montages. They are
more concerned with planting images and
ideas than presenting them overtly.
And Collectors are from Australia where
things are done differently. There is a
greater importance attached to playing
live and building a following than there
is in this record-maketh band country.
Consequently, their discs (the 'Talking A
Stranger single and a forthcoming
Virgin LP) are merely indications of the
definitive, live Hunters And Collectors.
in Newcastle they almost outnumber the
audience: "Really great to be in
Newcastle. This song's dedicated to
Newcastle", says the singer to
the empty spaces.
employ a painted backdrop of weird faces
promoting a psychedelic effect. A man in
the audience starts dancing, limbs
flapping wildly. He twitches and shrieks
at the bass player, who has just switched
to guitar, telling him the narrow strings
will kill him.
is serious he runs about the stage
mid-song trying to warn the others of the
danger. He could've been a plant but he
wasn't. He turned out to be a diagnosed
schizophrenic and afterwards asked if he
could join the band.
probably risking a jagged Fosters can to
the jugular by saying this but there is
something about Hunters And Collectors
that reminds me of Norman Gunston.
Gunston has a Channel 4 'comedy' show
which simply isn't funny but succeeds in
being fascinating (again to English
senses, at least) in its very questioning
of humour and just what is funny.
And Collectors seem to have a similar
relationship to music. Examining and
provoking, they're not necessarily funny
but they are, funnily, necessary.