Deniz Tek boasts one of the most interesting resumes in rock: Detroit exile, Australian punk icon for his work with Radio Birdman, emergency room doctor and U.S. Navy fighter pilot. Although he hasn’t done a lot of the latter lately, he is still working as a doctor, still writing songs drawing on his hometown history (and naming his latest album after it), and still playing some of the toughest sounding guitar around.

With ‘Detroit’ fresh off the presses and the Godoy brothers - a.k.a. the Bad Men, who were also his backing band under their original name of the Golden Breed on 2003’s ‘Glass Eye World’ - and a new signature guitar in hand (modelled on his trademark Epiphone Crestwood Deluxe), he embarked on a tour of North America that took him to to Ottawa’s Dominion Tavern, likely the only venue in town where a good chunk of the staff look like they take their fashion cues from the Exploited circa 1985.

Ottawa’s Voicemail opened the show. A local supergroup of sorts featuring member’s of power pop pros Mother’s Children and the White Wires, their love of the more melodic side of 1970's punk and hard rock shone through in their brisk set, which included a tight version of the Undertones' ‘Male Model’ and a cover of Rose Tattoo’s ‘Magnum Maid’, dedicated to the evening’s headliner.

Although it had seemed earlier in the evening that Tek and company might have ended up playing to a crowd of a two dozen, the venue started to fill up with enthusiasts of his Birdman days (the owner of one of the city’s best record stores has long evangelized for the band, naming his business Birdman Sound and promoting the show).

Tek kicked off the set with a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Oh Well’, whose verse - “I can't help about the shape I'm in/I can't sing, I ain't pretty and my legs are thin” - applies to a lot of aging rockers far better than it does to Tek.

Having found their legs, the band blasted ahead with Radio Birdman’s ‘Smith and Wesson Blues’ and ‘Murder City Nights’.

They switched gears with a handful of tunes from the new album, starting with ode to death ‘Pine Box’, ‘Fate, Not Amenable to Change’ and ‘Can of Soup’ before heading back down under for Birdman’s ‘Hand of Law’. Then it was back to ‘Ghost Town’, an all too appropriate ode to Tek’s eroding hometown, and the ironic ‘Perfect World’, which Tek dubbed the band’s "mini-opera".

‘What It’s For’ was the only Golden Breed song to appear, and was followed by a melancholy ‘Alone In The Endzone’.

The set ended with ‘I’m All Right’ from ‘Detroit’ merging into the 13th Floor Elevators' ‘Gonna Miss Me’, Radio Birdman’s most notable cover.

The encore started off with the Vibrators’ ‘Whips and Furs’, then launched into a high-energy version of ‘What Gives?’ that had the crowd singing along. A charging version of ‘Aloha Steve and Danno’ made the perfect capper of the night.

Although there are too many Radio Birdman must hears to satisfy everyone, the evening was a mighty testament to the enduring power of rock and roll.

Set List:

Oh Well
Smith and Wesson Blues
Murder City Nights
Pine Box
Fate, Not Amenable to Change
Twilight of the Modern Age
Can of Soup
Hand of Law
Ghost Town
Perfect World
What It’s For
Alone in the Endzone
I’m All Right
Gonna Miss Me


Whips and Furs
What Gives?
Aloha Steve and Danno

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