Eleven years after the Saints' classic punk rock debut, "I'm Stranded," the Australian quartet made its first Washington appearance Sunday night at the 9:30 club, presenting an inspiring show of richly textured rock.
Singer-songwriter Chris Bailey has one of the most distinctive voices around, his thick bellow lending a rough kick both to the song lyrics and to his litany of sarcastic comments about music, religion and the U.S. government.
The Saints played many songs from their new album, "All Fools Day," including the pop-oriented and danceable "Just Like Fire Would" and "Hymn to St. Jude," into which Bailey packs all the punk power of the old days. After years of European touring, many record releases and a few personnel changes, the Saints have grown into a band that both celebrates and parodies American rock while embracing bits of soul, boogie-woogie and folk. A highlight of the show was "Ghost Ships," with its folk rock opening followed by an explosion of aggressive guitar.
Opening were the Connells, a promising five piece band out of Raleigh, N.C. Their set was marred by the fact that you could barely hear Doug McMillan's vocals -- but the words were probably supposed to be indecipherable, anyway.