Leave it to Perkins to raise the bar. He shares vocals with Dan Sultan on a rowdy, rockabilly rendition of When The Saints Go Marching In (St Kilda's theme song)
There's three types of people you might expect to see at a show like this. First: footy nuts who can't get enough of anything AFL. Second: music lovers, the kind who'd happily listen to Tex Perkins sing from the phone book while Charlie Owen twangs a rubber band. Third: those who sense there's an underlying, willful irony/insouciant fun in some of our most respected local musicians debasing themselves with one of the lowest forms of popular music, the AFL club song. No doubt there's more than a few representatives from each category here tonight since The Gasometer Hotel is filled to capacity.
Anyone who was hoping for some fun and creative reinterpretations of these songs that, typically, are shouted monotonally by large, drunken mobs, is quickly disillusioned. Generally, tonight's arrangements, played by ensembles assembled on the basis of team allegiances, barely stray from the originals in either shape or form; only in volume and instrumentation, with guitars and drums standing in for marching-band horns. The setlist roughly reflects the layout of the 2015 AFL ladder, with a few variations to accommodate artists' scheduling requirements. (Also, there are no musicians representing Essendon, Greater Western Sydney or Port Adelaide.) As a result the show opens with a chunky, bluesy makeover of the Sydney Swans song, whose top-four finish is belied by this lowly billing. Next up is a noisy, lazy delivery of the Carlton Blues song, and it's already starting to feel like this is going to be a long night.
Leave it to Perkins to raise the bar. He shares vocals with Dan Sultan on a rowdy, rockabilly rendition of When The Saints Go Marching In (St Kilda's theme song), featuring some typically spry guitar work from Owen. Perkins also lands the topical footy joke of the night, singing a line from The Verve's The Drugs Don't Work and dedicating it to The Bombers, in reference to that team's well-documented supplements saga. There aren't many other highlights: Good Old Collingwood Forever is done as garage-floor-dirty punk; Melbourne quartet 'The Adelaide Crows' — representing their AFL namesake — deliver some nice harmonies; and the crew representing Fremantle Dockers get points for remaking the worst of the league's club songs as a Spaghetti Western. There's also a cameo from popular Labor MP Anthony Albanese, who joins fellow Hawthorn supporters on stage for a rocked-up round of The Hawks' club song.
Each ensemble's remit is to perform their team's song plus a second, loosely related number. And so over the course of the night we get a raft of covers of varying quality: In The Navy (for The Blues); Don't Stop Believin' (for the perennially disappointing Kangaroos); All I Wanna Do (a Sheryl Crow song to honour Adelaide Crows). It's all in good fun, and after all is said and done the real winners are the children in remote communities who are supported by the Indigenous Literary Foundation, the beneficiaries of tonight's ticket proceeds.
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