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Live Review: The Whitlams, Perry Keyes, Tim Wheatley

5 September 2015 | 12:15 pm | Kassia Aksenov

"The set was not complete without a few digs at the Liberal government."

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Melbourne singer/model Tim Wheatley set off the evening with his solo work. Although it was primarily him, his acoustic guitar and the crowd it was in no way dull. Wheatley has that something extra that many artists in this genre strive for, yet fall short of. This was reflected in the crowd he drew — decent-sized considering he was the opening act. Burning The Midnight Oil, a song about Wheatley getting out of Melbourne showcased his one-man-band skills complete with foot pedal and harmonica. Wheatley’s husky voice gives his songs an Australian inflection making for an authentic and homely sound. He engaged the crowd between sets with his improv and genuinely had us laughing along with his jokes referencing the bar. He closed with Man In Waiting from his new album with its sweet harmonica finish. The whole experience was made even more enjoyable by the fact that Wheatley is a mega babe.

Perry Keyes, a peculiar support choice for last night’s gig, excited a cheer from the crowd as he came on stage. Delving straight into his set Keyes brought country to the city, those folky-Western songs infiltrated with Sydney’s inner city suburb references. He attempted to maintain the rapport with the crowd as was laid out by Tim Wheatley, yet the crowd was not as engaged with Keyes’ performance. Keyes played Catholic Boys & Catholic Girls from his latest album, showing off his recent stuff. 2nd Time I Saw You, an upbeat piece from an early album certainly was the highlight. It got the crowd going and turned those sways into dances.

Finally, The Whitlams took to the stage playing eerie old film audio as they entered. Performing a range of tracks from their huge discography they began with Fall For You, the first release from their 2002 album. Tim Freedman’s voice has not lost its brilliant signature polite half-sung-half-spoken style. No Aphrodisiac was played early on, eliciting recognition from the crowd as they sung along. Freedman stood as he keyed the song building up to a grand and extended finish. End Of Your World saw a technical difficulty after Freedman’s piano solo that was quickly covered by Jak Housden’s impromptu guitar work. Freedman spoke with the crowd, acknowledging the difficulty as a mistake due to passion and took it back for a re-match. The audience were thrilled to hear the notes chime again.

The set was not complete without a few digs at the Liberal government, the perfect segue into White Horses, a song that was written about Howard’s 1996 triumph, with Freedman noting the song’s relevance in the current political climate. The set was sprinkled with inner west mentions and homage paid to Newtown, keeping true to The Whitlams' panache. You Sound Like Louis Burdett had the punters bopping and singing along with its jazzy tones. The Whitlams gave Blow Up The Pokies an extended intro, which proved to be another favourite. Freedman then gave a unique performance playing the Charlie songs' solo and letting the performance reach its natural climax. The crowd were in awe as their singing turned into a choir of voices that beautifully mirrored Freedman’s vocals. The band came back on stage to play a few more rowdy tracks ending with I Will Not Go Quietly, the perfect closer. The Whitlams came back on for a two-song encore before leaving the stage again and coming back for a second encore. By that time considerable portions of the crowd had already left and even the die-hard fans didn’t seem to know the final tracks. It was a shame to taint what was an outstanding and nostalgic performance of The Whitlams’ golden years. 

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