David McComb’s death in February 1999 was a tragedy for his family, friends and fans. Even more so, perhaps, his passing was a tragedy for Australian culture, because whilst this supremely talented songwriter – and leader of one of this country’s greatest ever bands, The Triifids – managed to write so many brilliant songs in his lifetime, we were most likely robbed of many decades of listening to and appreciating even greater compositions from this prolific artist.
Over the last year or so, some of McComb’s closest musical allies, including his brother Robert and other members of the extended Triffids’ family, have sifted through the multitude of cassettes David left behind that contained demos of new songs and half-formed song ideas that he never got to release in any finished form. They determined to bring some fully realised versions of these musical snippets into existence.
The resultant album, Truckload Of Sky – The Lost Songs Of David McComb – credited to The Friends Of David McComb – has just been released and the Adelaide Fringe was luckily chosen to be the venue for the first live airing of this ‘new’ set of songs.
Whilst some of the ‘Friends’ who played on the album sadly could not make this particular gig, the line-up who took to the LVL5 stage at The RCC was still pretty much a super-group of Australian indie rock.
Comprised of ex-Triffids, Robert McComb and ‘Evil’ Graham Lee, plus The Blackeyed Susans’ vocalist, Rob Snarski and their long serving bass player, Phil Kakulas, who formed the core of the group, they were also joined by more recent member of the Susans, ex-Hungry Ghosts guitarist and singer, JP Shilo and ex-Red Ponies and Paul Kelly keyboard player, Bruce Haymes.
Guesting on drums for this performance only was local legend Claire Moore, of The Moodist and The Coral Snakes fame, who had only joined up with the band on the previous day! In addition to sitting at the drum kit, Claire also sang Second Nature from the new album, and later, a heartfelt rendition of the iconic Triffids track, Raining Pleasure.
Other guest vocalists were Alex Gow, from Melbourne band Oh Mercy, and Lenore Stephens, who reprised her Somewhere In The Shadows duet with Rob Snarski that also features on the new album’s CD release.
All the songs from the album were played, which includes previously unheard tunes in addition to re-workings of rare songs from The Triffids’ early pre-fame era and songs by McComb’s last band Co-Star.
Many of these songs, like Kiss Him (He’s History), Kneel So Low and Lucky For Some are as good as anything else in the late artist’s canon, and it is wonderful that they are now being heard by a wide audience.
Long-term fans were ecstatic when McComb’s songs like This One Eats Souls, Don’t Call Yourself An Angel and Enemy Mine were announced. These songs, all early Blackeyed Susans tunes, were delivered as impassioned versions, full of the same emotional power of the originals.
The main set closed with Snarski delivering the poignant and beautiful, The Good Life Never Ends, which he declared, in his opinion, to be high on the list of McComb’s greatest songs. Anyone who has seen the concert film, It’s Raining Pleasure will certainly know how much this song means to him,
Called back for an encore, the band delivered two better known Triffids’ tunes, Unmade Love and A Trick Of The Light, which rounded of a magnificent evening of celebrating the life and artistry of a much-missed Australian musical titan.
By: Ken Grady
Rating: 5 stars
Truckload Of Sky – The Lost Songs Of David McComb was performed at LVL5 at The RCC as part of the Adelaide Fringe on Thursday 12 March 2020.