You Am I In A Class Of Their Own

YOU AM I is the buzz. The first Australian band in 10 years to have two albums debut at number one. Nine Aria award nominations. Best Group. Best Album. Best Song. Best Haircuts. Best Impersonation of Pete Townshend.

The Sydney trio with the slashing '60s guitar sound is world-class on stage. All 24 songs were performed with a flailing energy that left gangly singer Tim Rogers flat on his back in the wings after the
furious 60-minute set -with still two encores to go.

The band also played an under-18s gig that afternoon. "We're trying to retain the title of the Hardest Working Band In The Country," panted Rogers during the encore. "Shaggin', fightin', drinkin' . . . the whole bit." At 11pm, the sell-out crowd at the Metro was pushing toward the stage. The audience had no time for Brisbane support Powderfinger, who left the stage disappointed. The band had tried their best with their Pearl Jam-like riffs, but no one danced. No one cared. This was a You Am I-devoted crowd mostly made up of university students and the eyebrow-pierced indie set.

Minutes before the band came on stage, girls were fainting and being carried out by security. Rogers finally came on stage delivering a Spinal Tap rock salute - one fist raised in the air - an ironic acknowledgment of their new-found rock stardom; a bit self-conscious, keen to play down the hype with garage-band silliness. Opening with Moon Shines on Trubble, the band unashamedly showed their influences.

The Who's Pete Townshend windmill guitar strokes, Keith Moon's busy drum breaks and the Beatles' two-at-the-microphone whoo-whoos. Mop tops and all. They mined their back catalogue to great effect. Heads
were bobbing 30-deep in front of the stage during Cathy's Clown and Jewels and Bullets, the big hits from 1994's Hi Fi Way album.

Joined on the Uptight Express tour by a second guitarist/keyboardist, Greg Hitchcock, the band played fast and hard. Occasional respite came in the form of the sad ballad Handwasher and the big singalong Purple Sneakers. Rogers' inner-suburban stories about taxi drivers, milktrucks and girls with braces obviously struck a chord with this crowd, who had the lyrics to the new album down pat. Unleashing the famous coda to The Who's My Generation for Flag Fall $1.80, Rogers, bassist Andy Kent and drummer Russell Hopkinson left the stage in a lather of strobe light and honest sweat. They came back to top that with their homage to the previous holders of the Hardest Working Band title, the Easybeats' She's So Fine. Brilliant.