It’s been about a year since the Aints! (with a new incarnation exclamation mark) visited Melbourne to tour their first album, The Church of Simultaneous Existence, composed of Kuepper originals written in and around his tenure in the Saints. This gig marked the launch of five-track mini-LP 5-6-7-8-9, a shout-out to to the Saints’ classic 1977 EP 1-2-3-4, featuring alternate album tracks and reworked versions of Kuepper originals.
Red Aces began proceedings with a blast of brass and tightly controlled drums before Kuepper’s distinctive vocals kicked in, the opener to two sets crammed with songs both new and familiar – the Saints’ Everything’s Fine, the jaunty You Got The Answer and the more sombre You’ll Always Walk Alone from the Aints!’ first album, as well as Descending Into Blue from the band’s inchoate second album.
After punctuating the set beautifully with trumpet, saxophone, French horn and trombone, the horns made a discreet departure to allow for an absolutely epic eight minutes of the hard-driving, all-out noisemongery of the Saints’ Nights in Venice, showcasing the tightness of the four-piece that has gelled through touring more than was originally anticipated – Kuepper’s seemingly effortless guitar mastery more than matched by Peter Oxley (Sunnyboys) on bass, drummer Paul Larsen Loughead (the Celibate Rifles, the New Christs) and pianist Alister Spence.
The second set focused on the 5-6-7-8-9 release – a lovely brass intro to Hang Jean Lee, an ode to the last woman hanged in Australia, Memories Are Made of This, The Laughing Clowns, and Future Illogical from the upcoming album, which resulted in some gentle ribbing from the Ed aficionados in the room to hurry up with the new release.
The night finished with a riotous Know Your Product, with Kuepper leaving many of the sneering vocals to the audience, who were more than happy to play their part. A broken bass string denied us a keenly anticipated encore – there was disappointment but no hard feelings as the crowd reluctantly departed.