It had been a long time since I’d seen any live music outside a church or camp/conference context, so it was a trip down memory lane to be back at the Metro theatre in the Sydney CBD. An acute reminder of how old I am now, though. Doors opened at 7:30pm, then we were watching the first support act – Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier, from 8pm. Powerful voice, great bluegrass musical stylings, and lots to think about in the lyrics. Then at 9pm, Alex Lloyd was on stage, playing a great set, seated the whole time and playing an acoustic guitar: there was even a bit of audience participation.
So it wasn’t until 10pm that the Whitlams were on stage. The lighting was really great, the atmosphere electric – a room full of people wanting to see a band that was important to them sometime in the last 25 years, and a lot of people singing along to a lot of songs. There was even one song – Charlie #2 – where the audience did the singing, and (vocalist and piano player) Tim Freedman sang the harmony.
A few reflections on watching the band play.
- It’s been so long since the songs came out that the demographics have changed. “She was one in a million, so there’s 5 more just in New South Wales” (it’s now 7.5 million)
- Even with so many familiar songs, there were other Whitlams songs among my favourites that weren’t played!
- As much as “blow up the pokies” is a great, catchy song, it has made no difference to the sad state of gambling in Australia
- There’s a gap in the lives of non-churchgoing people for public singing; even with no lyrics up, there was huge participation in the room
- Listening back to the songs of my university days – the time when my thoughts were occupied with the hope of being married one day – but now out at a concert with my wife; it was a prompt to be grateful, and reconfigured that song in my memory for gratitude.
- Even in his 50’s, Tim Freedman is angry about what has changed about the nightlife of Sydney; encouraging concert-goers at the end of the night to take the train to Badgerys Creek and fly to Melbourne, where they could still find a place that was open.
Perhaps I’m too old now for concerts in the city, but as much as I enjoyed the concert, and I did, it was just too late at night for me.