It's a special time of year, the last Friday in September: Grand Final eve. The Weddoes are back at the Palace for the fourth year running. Opening proceedings are local collaboration, Livingstone Daisies, featuring singer-songwriters Van Walker and Liz Stringer. They play a rollicking set, at its best when Walker's unrefined roar mingles with Stringer's sweet back-up parts. The songs seem to get better as the set progresses and by the back half they have done well to get the crowd livened up.
Before Even can begin their set, Brian Nankervis, MC for the night, heads an 'audience versus band' music quiz. Even are dubiously awarded the win to the dismay of the crowd but Ash Naylor is able to win us back over pretty quickly once their set is allowed to start. His renowned guitar work is on full display and he belts out songs such as No Surprises and Sunshine Comes. Naylor along with Wally Kempton and Matthew Cotter are great exponents of the three-piece form and when Paul Thomas is called out to play pedal steel, we know the night will be something special for Melbourne rock fans.
Between sets, Nankervis is again at the helm. He draws out another music quiz, just enough to get those in attendance riled up. A great roar comes from the crowd when Weddings, Parties, Anything are finally announced. The show starts off with an old partnership, frontman Mick Thomas and Mark Wallace on accordion. Fittingly they play The Swans Return, before the full band appears and they launch into Decent Cup Of Coffee. The six-piece dynamic works comfortably as the crowd give themselves over to Thomas's evocations of familiar Australiana. Wallace's accordion and Jen Anderson's fiddle link perfectly, while at times the whole band joins in chorus to sing Thomas's down to earth tunes.
The sing-alongs don't really start until the band cover Wide Open Road, but can't be stopped when Knockbacks In Halifax and Father's Day follow. Thomas is at his storytelling best during A Tale They Won't Believe. Some argy-bargy in the mosh threatens to boil over into a pre-Grand Final mêlée but simmers down despite the nightmarish crescendo being played out onstage. A feeling of mateship runs through the night. The band has a ball onstage and long-time punters are clearly overjoyed to be reacquainted with The Weddoes. A man holding both arms in the air in triumph after the last chord has been played is a lasting image.
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