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(Photo by Max Vadukul)

Next month, Melbourne’s one-time globe-bestriding new wave of new rock band, Jet, will be inducted into the ARIA hall of fame. It’s an elevation which has not been without some discussion and controversy, as well as praise and excitement.

Among the arguments being made is one by publisher and veteran promotions man Stephen Green in this article in The Music, where he suggests Newcastle’s nation-bestriding Screaming Jets should be going into the hall of fame alongside them.

While not a fan of the Screaming Jets at all, I would back Stephen’s call on longevity, local meaningfulness, and impact. But would counter his dual nomination idea by suggesting Jet, whose moment was brightly glowing but brief and whose legacy is one cracking song, aren’t really hall of fame worthy.

Meanwhile, the all-propeller Wind Back Wednesday takes a flight to Sydney’s outer ‘burbs (near home!) in 2004 where Jet were in their pomp and no one was looking too hard in the room full of diamonds.



Castle Hill Tavern, May 5, 2004

IN THE UK THEY IDENTIFY that particular brand of anthemic rock song, the ones you can imagine well-fuelled blokes, arm-in-arm singing together while watching their football team from the terraces (or grandstands), as terrace songs. Oasis made a motza out of churning out a couple of those.

Standing deep in Castle Hill Tavern surrounded by well-fuelled blokes belting it out together arm-in-arm it soon becomes clear that Jet have perfected our own version of a terrace song. Except here we call it the beer barn song. And they’re making a motza out of it.

The best example may be Rollover DJ, a punchy sneer at those who prefer a turntable to a flying V guitar (of the kind being played by the tanktop-sporting Cameron Muncey). Foursquare beat, big fat chords played in your basic Rolling Stones manner and a chorus that begins with a “hey” and gets simpler from there, it’s Jet in essence. Alongside the night’s strutting opening song Get What You Need and Get Me Outta Here, Jet have a solid trio of songs for the sticky carpet, the faint odour of stale alcohol that can never be washed out and the raised glass of beer.

The slightly more sophisticated Are You Gonna Be My Girl is easily their best pop song, even when not played particularly well, as happened this night. It’s got some swing to match the chunky guitar and throat-tearing vocals and that riff is pure gold, as several advertisers have already noted.

The problem for Jet live is much the same as Jet on record: when you don’t have the distraction of noise and energy, the basic weaknesses are all too apparent. A bracket of slower songs such as Lazy Gun and Radio Song stops the gig dead in its tracks as the simplistic lyrics and obvious structures had nothing to hide behind.

The big karaoke ballad, Look What You’ve Done, is more successful because it has one of those silk shirt and scarf choruses that anyone, no matter how sozzled, can sing. But you wouldn’t want to look too closely at it.

Sensibly then, Jet closed off the short and sharp set (less than an hour before the encore) with four denim-clad songs that threw in the first real sign of their love for ‘60s soul but also connected with their ancient forebears Rose Tattoo (Cold Hard Bitch).

Though they’re often aligned with the resurgent ‘60s/’70s rock revival, it’s unlikely that Jet will fall away when the fad moves on. Like another ancestor, the Radiators, it’s easy to imagine that Jet could be playing venues like this for a decade or two more, as long as the beer barn songs keep coming.


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