Sunburned Hand of the Man, Vienna Fluc, 10 September 2006

Rolled along to the Fluc last night to see Sunburned Hand of the Man.

This was my first visit to the Fluc. It’s unusual in that gigs there are always free. It wasn’t a particularly conducive venue, if I’m being honest. The location, right next to Praterstern station, seemed to attract rather a lot of flotsam; I saw a guy pepper spraying two others with whom he was having an altercation. And the large window behind the stage made watching the band somewhat surreal. On the other hand, the place was full of beautiful people, so who am I to complain.

As for Sunburned, they were great, as expected. The last time I saw them was at the Cinematheque in Brighton, on (so their website tells me) 1 June 2004. That gig was fabulous – barely advertised in advance, it had the air of a private party, an impression not dispelled by the nine-strong band getting resolutely into the groove and steadfastly refusing to get out of it. The onstage wrestling and other antics were all part of the band’s determination to play as though their lives depended on it.

Last night’s show wasn’t quite as impressive, inevitably so given that there were only four of them onstage this time. But still, they made a huge impact with their writhing, tribal percussion, paint-stripping guitar and great blats of noise. I chatted briefly to John Moloney afterwards – one of the nicest, friendliest people you could wish to meet. And the onstage quip about tonight’s band being called “Sunburned Hand of the Third Man”, made with the Riesenrad in full view through the window, was priceless.

There’s something wholly refreshing about Sunburned. They are a band utterly without pretension and artifice. They take the time to talk and listen, and they produce and sell a series of limited, intensely desirable LPs, CDs and CD-Rs that encapsulate their desire to create a relationship with their audience that is tangible and precious. They seem to tour incessantly – their gig schedule is punishing. So I hope they return someday.

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