If your idea of a good time is taking it on the chin from a scowling, coarse-voiced redhead in a schoolgirl’s uniform and garter belt, then the Divinyls’ show at the Palace on Sunday was the place to be. For skirt-hiking, high-kicking entertainment with a heavy dose of anxiety and eager-to-tease intensity, you won’t do much better than the group’s sassy centerpiece Christina Amphlett.
With her haughty, Jaggerish gazes, severe aerobic fits and double-edged vocals, the wailin’ Australian was a fitting vehicle for the Divinyls’ uptempo, downbeat songs, where the search for love’s promised solace keeps bumping up against unpleasant, bruising encounters. Appropriately, Amphlett looked as though she’d been through the mill and gave the impression of a misused barmaid finally going berserk and unleashing her hostilities and frustrations.
All this should be more engaging than it was at the Palace, where Amphlett’s antics soon started seeming stagy and contrived. It was a one-note performance, and the lack of spontaneity suggested that she’s gone through the paces a few too many times. The Divinyls got people’s attention with this act a couple of years ago, but they’re spinning their wheels now, and the career is losing its momentum.
The music didn’t help much. The four musicians’ choppy, churning, guitar-centered rock yielded few strong hooks and it sounded overrehearsed to the point of stiffness, tightened until there was no life left.