Australia’s finest Tim Rogers (You Am I), Chris Cheney (The Living End), Phil Jamieson (Grinspoon) and Josh Pyke unite to play The White Album in its entirety at Festival Theatre. It was sold out and there was an err of anticipation of what was about to unfold.
It was a real rock ‘n roll blitz from first drop with Chris Cheney launching in to Back In The U.S.S.R to get The White Album concert under way. It was a seamless production with one song literally following another with all performers meeting their cue down to the second. Phil Jamieson warmed up with Dear Prudence showcasing an alternative side to rock front man one would expect when Grinspoon play. Chris Cheney was back again to take on Glass Onion. There is no doubt Cheney is a star who shone right from the get go.
Tim Rogers seems to be born for music theatre and tonight was no exception raising the bar and delivering another stellar performance. When Rogers entered part way through Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da there was a huge applause and it was easy to see Cheney, Pyke and Jamieson lift a gear. Rogers apologised to the city of Adelaide “for whatever I did last night, I was walking on the streets of Manhattan with my thirteen year old daughter a couple of months ago, she’s an intelligent and lively lady and looked up at me and asked whether The Beatles took drugs?” Then he answered his own question by saying “this is how I answered it” singing Wild Honey Pie – classic! Rumour has it that the cast were partying on to the early hours of Friday morning at Zhivagos which probably explains some of the flat spots early on.
“Ruby, I think the answer is possibly yes” Rogers answering then hanging around to deliver The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill. It is interesting to look at the crowd response with the fans of Rogers, Cheney, Jamieson and Pyke getting in to was a complete contrast to the theatre toffs with one hand on the shiraz and another scratching their head wondering what the theatrics of Tim Rogers was all about. Wow! Chris Cheney blew a lot of people with While My Guitar Gently Weeps so much so that Rogers came back out saying “you bastard!”
Rogers suggested that “we’re all here to essentially turn you on, some of us do it by dressing up as vaudevillian race caller from 1973 singing just a little bit out of tune and being a bit generous in that regard by not overwhelming you. Others choose to overwhelm you by being blistering talented and heartfelt. I played with that man twenty one years ago and when I put him to bed at seven a.m. this morning and the Adelaide Hilton I gave him a kiss on the cheek and said it’s a fucking good life, isn’t it!” With that in mind he sang a beautiful song about heroin aptly titled Happiness Is A Warm Trombone.
It must be hard for guys like Pyke and Jamieson to come out after the likes of Rogers and Cheney. Pyke looked a little lost without his acoustic guitar but having said that Martha My Dear was solid. Jamieson took it down a notch with I’m So Tired with Pyke returning for his best moment of the night playing Blackbird. It was almost like this song was tailor made for Pyke.
Rogers seemed on top of the theatrical banter replying to Pyke’s devotee’s saying “yes, he’s handsome! A wonderful singer and a dexterous guitar player who’s written five albums of unusual clarity” but asserted “what has he ever given us? Rattle your tram tickets if you appreciate Josh Pyke and his beautiful voice. All you gentlemen rattle your fooking jewellery!” Piggies followed complete with a pig noise and sound effects.
Rogers got deep and said “I love this city but we need to talk” serving as a precursor to Rocky Raccoon combining with Pyke on harmonies. Jamieson really found his feet on Don’t Pass Me By followed by plenty of grunt with Cheney knocking out a rocking Why Don’t We Do It In The Road. I reckon Jamieson’s stellar moment was the ballad I Will, bloody great! The first set closed with Pyke singing Julia then it was a twenty minute intermission.
The second set started in the same ball tearing, rockin’ fashion with Cheney firing up the crowd with Birthday. If there was ever going to be a semi-Grinspoon moment it came by way of Yer Blues with Jamieson pulling this one off just famously. Mother Nature’s Son was another one of Pyke’s great moments but was overshadowed by the showman Rogers Everyone’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey which was a ripper with some impressive dance moves. Jamieson offers plenty of light and shade toning it down with Sexy Sadie. Cheney got “down and dirty” with Helter Skelter prompting the response “just call him standing ovation Cheney” joking that he gave the guitar solos “seven out of ten” before impressing with Long, Long, Long.
The epic moment of the set was Rogers taking on Revolution 1. He explained that this song is a way that would communicate to people that they love them also going on to say that it has been a crazy couple of weeks being an absolute joy to play these songs. A few punters wanted to stand up and dance and were later directed to sit back down which was a disappointing as it was one of those moments where this was warranted. Jamieson described Rogers as “mercurial” and the “CEO of The White Album Concert” then delving in to Honey Pie. Cry Baby Cry by Pyke was great and also sang a few lines of the song Won’t You Take Me Back before the band went it alone playing Revolution 9.
Rogers, Cheney, Jamieson and Pyke returned to perform united on second set closer Goodnight. What a moment! Majestic! After band introductions by stalwart Lindsey Field Rogers, Cheney, Jamieson and Pyke received mass applause with the audience wanting more. A Day In The Life was superb seeing these guys singing together topped off by Revolution.
Overall, the show was good despite a few flat spots where the energy of the performance was lacking and the sound mix wasn’t great and the lack of energy from the crowd didn’t help either. Talking to Rex Goh after the show they will be doing it again in four years time and maybe it’s time to dust off some of the other Beatles albums in the discography.