Let’s be real. The 90s were awesome, especially for music. Australia, in particular, garnered a veritable trove of talent who produced unforgettable and, at times, timeless music. None more so than The Whitlams. Since forming in 1992, The Whitlams have created seven studio albums that spawned many singles that still live rent-free in many people’s minds. Their Early Years ’93-’97 tour honoured a prolific era in their career and celebrated some damn fine music.
Joined by Scott Owen (The Living End) on the double bass, Tim Freeman (vocals, piano/ keyboard), Jak Housden (guitar), Terapai Richmond (drums), and Ian Peres (electric bass, keyboard) made The Gov’s celebrated stage their home away from home. For three epic hours (with twenty-minute interval), the sold-out crowd was spoiled with two phenomenal sets.
No punches were pulled with the set list. Set one, a best of Introducing The Whitlams, Undeniably The Whitlams, and Eternal Nightcap, captured the band’s eclectic nature. From the up-tempo Gough, the low tempo Where Is She, and You Don’t Even Know My Name to the groovy Winter Lovin’ with its delightful melodies, Freedman and co wasted no time reminding us of their talent.
The sixteen-song set was well-paced. In fact, the whole show was. Sprinkled with the banter of a very chatty Freedman, the atmosphere was earnest yet casual and welcoming.
Fans of The Whitlams know of their ill-fated history. It is steeped in many lyrics, captured for an eternity. So, when the band left the stage, allowing Freedman to solo The Curse Stops Here, it made for a breathtaking moment. Backed up by I’m Still Faithful, the pairing was the first of a handful of poignant and vulnerable moments.
I’m Different, with the full band, gently released the emotion of the aforementioned songs. It allowed us to gather ourselves for the famed conclusion of the first set. I Make Hamburgers and No Aphrodisiac were as brilliant as expected. They left us craving more.
After a brief intermission, more was what we received!
Set two similarly captured the ebbs and flows of emotions associated with The Whitlams discography. Fall For You eased us in before Royal in the Afternoon, In the Last Life, and Year of the Rat, with its notable drums/ keys, picked up the pace like an adrenalin shot.
The Charlie trilogy – Charlie No. 1, Buy Now Pay Later (Charlie No. 2), and Charlie No. 3 – followed. Total silence descended upon The Gov when the opening chords were heard. Then, a tender sing-along ensued across all three. It was a compelling moment and pertinent tribute to founding member Stevie Plunder.
The sing-along continued with Melbourne, and the mid-tempo trajectory transitioned to Life’s a Beach.
The remainder of the show set the bar exceptionally high for iconic-ness. Thank You (For Loving Me at My Worst), Blow Up the Pokies, Up Against a Wall, with a spectacular “triple bass” duet from Peres and Owen, I Get High, and You Sound Like Louis Burdett were nothing short of brilliant.
Leaving us with an encore of Keep the Light On and Tangled Up in Blue, the band guaranteed punters left fulfilled and then some.
Over thirty years after forming The Whitlams, Freedman performed just as well, if not better, as he did then. His voice was still on point. As was his outward enthusiasm for performing. Although, the wine may have somewhat contributed to that. The current incarnation of the band was tight, in sync. They looked to be having a ball.
The Whitlams earned the right to be considered Aus Music royalty a long time ago. Friday night’s performance cemented that fact.
LIVE REVIEW Anita Kertes, Hi Fi Way