Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Basics- Melbourne Festival

The Basics recently released their fourth studio album The Age Of Entitlement, and with Wally back briefly from New York they have hit the road for an extensive tour of Australia. For the past two nights they played at the Foxtel Festival Hub as part of the Melbourne Festival. These shows were in the round like their Tinder Knight gig in February. The opening act both nights was Indigenous singer-songwriter Benny Walker, who played a lovely solo set of his songs on acoustic guitar.

The boys came out onto the stage in the middle of the room wearing their brand new suits for this tour. Both nights opened with the one-two punch of "Whatever Happened To The Working Class" and "A Coward's Prayer." The songs off of The Age Of Entitlement were the focus of the setlist, with pretty much every song getting an airing on one or both nights. The most political tracks "Tunaomba Saidia," "Time Poor" and "The Lucky Country" still hold true even with the change of leadership nationally. There was the heartache of the songs "To Think Of You," "Every Part Of Me" and "Feels Like Love." "Ashleigh Wakes" and "Roundabout" added some fun to the setlist, especially when Wally broke his brushes during the latter mid-song on the first night. We also got some classic Basics tracks with "I Don't Need Another," "With This Ship," "Rattle My Chain," and the beautiful harmonies of "Hey Rain!" They even played the raucous b-side "My Old Mate" finish off night one.

One of the most unpredictable aspects of any Basics shows is what covers will get played, especially with these in the round shows where people are encouraged to bring the lyrics and chords of songs for the boys to play. My attempt to get them to do Journey's "Lights" on the first night failed miserably as they didn't know the song (I guess it's just the SF Bay Area that really seems to know it as we sing it at the baseball?). Someone did shout out for "Maybe I'm Amazed" by Paul McCartney and Wally took on the challenge and slayed it.

People has more success on night two as the boys did a hilarious version of John Farnham's "Two Strong Hearts" (with a snippet of Jimi Hendrix's "All Along The Watchtower" in the middle) and "Message To My Girl" by Split Enz. Earlier in the evening they played a fantastic version of another Enz track "One Step Ahead" with Kris taking a turn on drums while Wally was at the piano. On the first night they did Crowded House's "Not The Girl You Think You Are."

Both nights featured covers of The Everly Brothers' "Love Hurts" and David Bowie's "As The World Falls Down" from the 1980s movie Labyrinth. On the second night we were treated to two very special moments. One was the anti-war song "And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" by Eric Bogle, which describes the experience of war from the point of view of a man fighting in Gallipoli during World War I. Then Wally did the most beautiful and heartfelt version of Fleetwood Mac's "Songbird" solo on the piano. As former keyboardist Dave Bramble was in the crowd they invited him up to play along on Neil Young's "Old Man" (with Kris changing the lyrics to reflect his age of 34).

It was a wonderful opportunity to get to see The Basics play together again over two nights in such an intimate setting. With them hinting about an indefinite hiatus after this tour, who knows how long it will be until the next big outing around Australia? If you get the chance to see them live over the next couple of weeks don't miss out (and there will be one last hurrah in Melbourne on Cup Eve at the Gasometer Hotel).

Here's the video for the current single "A Coward's Prayer"

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