Review of The Whitlams

9 Mar

THE WHITLAMS
Quarry Amphitheatre, City Beach
31/01/09
The Live At The Quarry series has been a resounding success with every show from Paul Kelly’s A-Z, Tripod, James Morrison, and lastly The Whitlams’ three gigs all selling out.
Last year this legendary Newtown band (note Newtown and not Sydney for anyone that’s seen The Chaser’s funny send-up), released a ‘best of’ album Truth, Beauty & A Picture of You – The Best Of The Whitlams, which includes songs spanning all six of their studio albums; so now, the band is touring the country again playing out The Whitlams’ story to date.
Opening with Beauty In Me off the last 2006 album Little Cloud, followed by No Aphrodisiac (from their best album Eternal Nightcap) and then Fall For You (from Torch The Moon), it was apparent that while this was a pleasing set for any Whitlams fan, it was a tad too polished and lacking in passion, like the band was just (enjoyably) going through the motions and they’ve played these songs hundreds of times before (which they have).
Freedman was very entertaining and in fine form, introducing every song with his witty banter and trademark style of being almost insulting, and in between songs chatting about everything from the different types of clouds in the sky, to avoiding visiting the ex-wife on the way home, Neil Young at the Big Day Out (even playing a Neil Young cover), and all the while enjoying the chilled champagne and drops of red he was swilling.
It was all very pleasant and the music did induce some passion during You Sound Like Louis Burdett and in the solo rendition by Freedman of Buy Now Pay Later. Blow Up The Pokies and I Make Hamburgers were also crowd favourites, with some of the younger people in the audience getting up to dance.
All in all it was an enjoyable night for reasons outside of the band – i.e. the venue, the intimacy, the vibe. It wasn’t that The Whitlams were bad – they just need to get those creative juices flowing again and find a way to evoke the rawness and emotion that made them so damn popular in the first place; or to otherwise just play Eternal Nightcap in its entirety.

[As published in The Drum Media Perth, Issue 122, February 05, 2009]

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