Hunters And Collectors




live review



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.

It lasts 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.

They 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, multi-faceted jigsaw.

Hunters 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.

Hunters 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.

Unfortunately, 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.

They 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.

This guy 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.

I’m 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.

Hunters And Collectors seem to have a similar relationship to music. Examining and provoking, they're not necessarily funny but they are, funnily, necessary.


mick sinclair

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To read many more articles and reviews (over 140,000 words-worth!) written by Mick Sinclair, buy Adjusting the Stars: Music journalism from post-punk London