For one night only, Vancouver punk trailblazer Art Bergmann of the K-Tels/Young Canadians and Poisoned came out of hiding in Alberta to perform in support of the release of Lost Art Bergmann, a collection of songs that Bergmann originally recorded for his 1988 solo album, the John Cale-produced Crawl with Me. Richard’s on Richards was filled to capacity with the ghosts of Vancouver punk’s past—faces more often seen on stage or in the back lounge at the Railway Club on Saturday night. The unpredictability of the forthcoming event added to the excitement.
Openers, TV Heart Attack and Rat Silo, were well received and did a great job of warming up the eager crowd. Then the stage was prepared for the main event, guitars resting against their amps, the jet black drums high above the stage, and a pulpit standing empty, waiting for its preacher. At last, Bergmann wandered out from the back room to a roar of cheers. Swilling a bottle of beer, he took a seat on the floor and leaned against the pulpit while the rest of Poisoned took their places: Ray Fulber picked up his bass, Susann Richter dusted off her keys and Taylor Nelson Little scaled the riser to his kit. The band was also joined by the infamous Tony Baloney, filling in for Bergmann on guitar.
The band kicked in as if 20 years hadn’t passed, and the aged front man proved he hasn’t lost his spark—or his appetite for tequila. During the first song, Bergmann was quick to get rid of the stool provided for him, using the pulpit and mic stand as props. In between songs his antics were questionable and his banter indecipherable, but from time to time his clever wit shone through as he took jabs at the likes of Gordon Campbell and promised the imminent death of Ticketmaster. The band rolled on through classics such as “Junkie Don’t Care” and “Bound for Vegas,” playing the songs with pride as Bergmann captivated the audience with his wavering sanity. As the furious set came to a close, the exhausted musicians were relieved to quit the stage, but the crowd wasn’t having it. After a few minutes of thunderous applause, Poisoned came out and played one last song.