Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Basics- Howler

Wally's home for the holidays so that means we were treated to The Basics playing their first proper show together in over a year at Howler. I thought since tonight was sold out we were finally going to get a full rock stage show, but as I walked in and saw the instruments set up in the middle of the floor I knew it was going to be another in-the-round gig.

Opening tonight was Monty Cotton, who appeared last night at The Songroom with the boys. He played a solo set on acoustic guitar (using some looping pedals) and did a great job of engaging with the crowd. He sang a few of his own songs from last night with "Walkabout," "No Reason To Explain" and "Stay With Me Tonight." It was his covers though that really got the crowd's attention as he did a hillbilly reel (which started with "Duelling Banjos" from Deliverance), Johnny Cash's "Ghost Riders In The Sky," and off an audience request for Beyoncé sang "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" but in the voice of Johnny Cash. It was quite funny and topped his trick of doing a guitar solo behind his head.

The Basics, Howler
The Basics emerged onto the floor in their matching suits, which was a bit of an indicator of the type of set list they were planning to play this evening. It was great to watch Wally back on the drums as they began the set with "So Hard For You." Everyone was gathered in close and encouraged to dance as we were treated to an old school Basics show. They went deep into the back catalogue as they played "What Have You Done?," "I Could Go On," and "Hey C'mon!" off Get Back and the live staples "My Baby" and "Yeah, Yeah" (complete with dance moves from Kris and Tim). There were also a lot of songs off of Stand Out / Fit In with the highlights being "Bitten By The Same Bug," "Memory Lane," and the classic pairing of "Hey There!" and "Just Hold On."

The Basics, Howler
Often at Basics gigs there are running jokes or references throughout the night, and tonight was no exception as "ham" kept getting brought up due to Tim's written reminder to himself on his hand. The other funny moment was when Wally started singing "C is for Cookie" in his Cookie Monster voice. Of the more recent material that was played, "With This Ship" got the biggest reaction from the crowd. I loved hearing "A Coward's Prayer" as it's one of my favorite tracks off The Age Of Entitlement. Kris did a touching version of "To Think Of You," which he dedicated to two friends who had just passed away, and the harmonies on "Hey Rain!" were quite beautiful in the hushed room.

As soon as they finished the main set the call for an encore was loud and continuous from the crowd until they came back out. We got energetic versions of "Roundabout" and 'Time Poor," and considering Wally hadn't been on a drum kit for a year he did quite well to make it through the show. Another oldie that was pulled out of the vaults was "You're Already Gone," and then they played an audience request for "Home Again." The final song of the night was the always fun "Call It Rhythm and Blues," which had everyone dancing, and then the guys took their final bow after playing for nearly two hours. Unfortunately this will be it for a while as Wally heads back to New York to (hopefully) finish his Gotye album, Kris travels to Mongolia to work for an NGO, and Tim takes over ownership of the Theatre Royal in Castlemaine (where they are playing one last 2016 show for New Year's Eve). Mary and I will definitely miss seeing The Basics live, but we know at some point in the future they will reunite and play together again.

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