Last week Steve Poltz celebrated his 50th birthday for the fifth time with a blow out bash at The Belly Up. He had The Truckee Brothers, Earl Thomas, Sara Petite, Berkley Hart, and The Rugburns in tow to help round out the bill. The day after the show, I was cruising Facebook when I came across a  review of the Steve Poltz set. I decided to reach out to the author of the piece, Dean Gifford, who travels all the way  from Australia to attend the birthday celebration. After learning more about Dean, I couldn’t help but to ask him if he would share his story and his review with San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll.

So, without further ado, here’s a little bit about Dean followed by his show review.

Steve and I have been friends since August 30th, 2005 (but who’s counting). His DVD “Live at the Basement” was shown on late night television one day, and I just happened to be awake to catch it. Needless to say that I was at the very next show I could be. We spoke after that show and have been friends ever since.

This entire holiday for me has been planned around this concert. In Australia, we get four weeks of leave from work per year, and I generally try and do a bit of travel. Having seen the first 50th birthday show, I have missed only one since. I will never miss another! I am a better man because of late night television.

Someone asked me on this trip, “What do you like to do?”

Well, I like to live. I like adventure. I like new friends, and I live for events like last night.

It was like a musical kaleidoscope bomb went off inside the Belly Up. And continued to do so for five compelling hours, from 8pm – 1am. A musical merry go round of blissful madness – a cocktail of smiles, hugs, high fives, dancing, singing and internationally mutual memories.

Half of what Steve likes to do for his “50th Birthday” shows is open his audience to new artists, and open new artists to his audience. Another STELLAR line up preceded the impending madness of The Rugburns.

Earl Thomas, Sarah Petite, The Truckee Brothers, and a perennial favourite of mine, Berkley Hart. They each brought something different, and they each won the loving crowd. Do yourself a favour and get a hold of these peoples records. Your quality of life will improve – this I guarantee.

I MUST mention the Canadian American hybrid we call Steve… crowd surfing in a dinosaur outfit. The mad bastard comes out during the Truckee’s set, and without warning, is into the crowd. Rock and roll!

So okay, down to business.

Steve, Doc, Stinky and John tore the place apart. Enough said. A few songs I haven’t heard live before, topped off with some old favourites and well chosen covers. I’m dancing like a true Irishman during “Kilkenny Man” with three people I have truly no idea who they are. I am properly moshing during “Hitchhiker Joe.” And I am leading the actions during “H.J.O.A.C.B.”

SETLIST (Poltz + Burns only)
1. Closer To You
2. I’ll Tell Me Ma
3. A Brief History Of My Life
4. Your Big Mouth
5. ABC’s Of Love – Take Off Your Shirt
6. The Days Are Beautiful
7. Crispy
8. Kiss Your Ass
9. Mama
10. Old Lovers House
11. Take The Skinheads Bowling
12. Football Tonight
13. I Want My Fucking House Back
14. Morning Song
15. Till The Next Day Comes
16. Hitchhiker Joe
17. Seven Drunken Nights
18. Rioting
19. Nice Bike
20. This Flood
21. Handjob On A Church Bus
22. Kilkenny Man
23. Waterfalls
24. My Boyfriend
25. Long Haul
26. Me And Eddie Vedder
27. Skyfuckingline Of Toronto (best version ever!)
28. Country Road


Maybe I am biased because I am so very lucky to be friends with the guys, but it’s also the subsequent human connection that comes from a mutual love for the band that enriches my soul and makes my heart smile like it’s not used to. It turns out most of the people I was dancing with, I already “know” from the Cult, and IG etc… And then, I meet even more people I “recognise” during the post show celebrations.

Human trust, connection and conversing agreeance is what nourishes us. Humans are pack animals.
It is events like Steve’s annual birthday bash that MAKE HUMANITY BETTER.

Please don’t ever stop Steve; I want to attend the 50th annual 50th birthday bash. I will always make the effort to be in San Diego, at the Belly Up Tavern, on or around the 19th of February.

Sore throat. Ringing ears. New friends, old friends. Higher heights, mesmerising moments, now precious memories.

Love to absolutely everyone,


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